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Poll: Americans Are Opposed to Online Lottery

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Luck may be a lady, but she doesn't always belong on the Internet. At least that is what a majority of respondents in a national poll said regarding the sale of online lottery tickets.

The poll was sponsored by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and posed questions regarding the use of credit cards, direct electronic transfers from bank accounts or debit/ATM cards to buy online lottery tickets.

According to the results, 78 percent of respondents, registered and proven voters in the 43 states and the District of Columbia that have a lottery, said online lottery sales are a bad idea. These respondents oppose underage children being able to gamble, racking up credit card debt and draining the family bank and are less likely to support lawmakers who advocate for the Internet lottery.

"As State Legislatures take up this issue, they should know that voters are overwhelmingly opposed to Internet lottery, and overwhelmingly are less likely to support lawmakers who advocate for it," Brian Dodge, senior vice president for communications and state affairs for RILA, said in a press release.

Dodge also cited the fact that 92 percent of respondents said they believe personal, financial debt is a problem for Americans, and allowing online lottery ticket sales would just aggravate the problem.

RILA also argued that the issue of Internet lottery tickets is still a new topic for many Americans, since the Department of Justice ruling in December 2011 that opened the door to Internet and gaming activities including online lotteries.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, some states have proceeded with caution when considering the federal ruling. Utah passed legislation prohibiting Internet gaming in general, while Michigan and Colorado introduced legislation prohibiting online lottery sales. Vermont has authorized a study on the impact of allowing online lottery ticket sales. But RILA points out that Illinois and Georgia started selling lottery tickets online last year and Delaware authorized its state lottery to offer online gaming last June. Other state lottery commissions, including those in New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey, are considering online expansion as well, the organization noted.

While proponents have argued in favor of the expanded revenue that online lottery sales generate, opponents, including convenience store retailers, worry about the social impact.

"Can you imagine what happens when a child gets a hold of a parent's ATM card and decides to play the lottery online? They could unintentionally empty a bank account in a very short amount of time," said Dennis Lane, a Massachusetts 7-Eleven franchisee. "The best way to protect our kids is to keep lottery sales at brick and mortar retailers so we can properly ID lottery players."

The poll results also revealed:

  • 82 percent of respondents think there is ample lottery access without Internet expansion;
  • 84 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to support lawmakers who advocate for the Internet lottery because it will make it easier for underage children to play the lottery; .
  • 79 percent of respondents believe that the Internet lottery will increase the number of compulsive gamblers and would be less likely to support lawmakers because of this fact;
  • 80 percent of respondent oppose allowing people to use their credit cards to play the lottery online
  • 70 percent of respondents doubt that requiring lottery players to provide their Social Security number and birth date prior to playing the Internet lottery will successfully prevent minors from accessing the lottery online.

RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers and service suppliers and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.

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