Wisconsin Won't Follow Online Lottery Sales Trend

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Wisconsin Won't Follow Online Lottery Sales Trend


GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Although Illinois has seen promising lottery sales since it began offering ticket purchases online last month – and other states are considering doing the same -- Wisconsin won't be among them, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.

"It's not on the radar screen at all," Wisconsin Lottery Spokesman Andrew Bohages said. "Internet lottery sales are prohibited by the state constitution."

After the U.S. Justice Department declared last year that the Wire Act of 1961, which prohibits placing bets over telecommunication systems across state or national boundaries, applies only to sports betting, 21 states and Washington, D.C., began to reexamine the possibility of online lottery sales, noted Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association. On March 25, Illinois became the first state to implement online lottery sales.

Wisconsin, however, specifically bars playing the lottery using computers, phones or any form of "electronic, telecommunication, video or technological aid," according to Bohage.

Still, he acknowledged that the state’s residents have occasionally shown interest in the idea. "[They're] looking for an easier way than stopping at a convenience store to get a ticket," he told the news outlet. "We'll get contacted every now and then about that."

Some predict that online lottery sales are inevitable. The Justice Department ruling "was a gift of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to any state that wants to do this," stated Whittier Law School Professor I. Nelson Rose. "In less than 10 years, we're going to see most of the states moving to Internet gambling."

Illinois has reported good results with its online program, with Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones anticipating an extra $1 million in online sales when Mega Millions jackpots reach $100 million.

But like Wisconsin, Maine also is bucking the trend. Last week, a state Senate committee approved a bill that would outlaw online lottery sales.

NACS, the Association for Convenience and Fuels Retailing, has expressed "significant concerns" about the effect of online sales on convenience stores that sell lottery tickets.