The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 28, 2014

Dayton: Lottery needs time to end online games

ST. PAUL (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday it would be "pointless" for him to veto a bill stripping the Minnesota Lottery's ability to sell tickets online if the Legislature votes convincingly for the restriction.

Dayton told The Associated Press that he hopes lawmakers at least give the lottery adequate time to end its Internet games and minimize breached contracts. The Senate voted overwhelmingly last week for an immediate online lottery prohibition. A House vote could come soon.

The Democratic governor didn't commit to signing the bill, but said a lopsided House vote would make a veto futile. He could also let it become law without his signature.

Dayton, who has expressed concern that profit motive by lottery competitors could be driving the clampdown, said he asked House Speaker Paul Thissen to build in a grace period for the lottery. Dayton said the lottery has commitments to vendors and to players who have purchased tickets on a subscription basis for Powerball, Mega Millions and other drawings months into the future.

"Like many things in this session it's being rushed through without the forethought it deserves," Dayton said of the bill.

Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he expects a bill restricting online lottery sales to get a vote before the session ends in a few weeks. Top lawmakers from both parties have signed onto the effort. Some have moral concerns over gambling. Others fear the setting makes the games more addictive and still more are upset that lottery officials launched the games without consulting legislators.

"Personally I don't think we should have the lottery going online without at least having some discussions in the Legislature about the parameters we put around it," Thissen said Monday. "Moving from paper gaming to online gaming is very different."

Criticism intensified when the lottery moved its franchise scratch-off games online beginning in February. Players could access instant-play games from their homes or smartphones rather than buying them in a store.

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