Rep. Lima to introduce legislation to allow online scratch tickets
Rep. Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence) has introduced legislation (2018-H 7437) to allow the State Lottery Commission to offer online “Scratch Tickets” in addition to the lottery scratch tickets bought in the stores. Additionally it would authorize the State Lottery Commission to offer online lottery tickets as well. Online sales would be attractive to Rhode Island’s growing Millennial population.
Noting that the State has a growing budget deficit, as well as, a growing unfunded pension liability, Representative Lima said, “it is time to explore alternate means of revenue rather than always placing the burden on the taxpayers. Additionally, it is time that Rhode Island make an honest effort to reduce its’ unfunded pension liability and make our retirees and pensioners whole as promised.”
New Hampshire is the latest state to explore the possibility of online lottery sales including scratch tickets. Representative Lima’s bill will be similar to the one New Hampshire legislature recently passed.
Representative Lima noted that Rhode Island has a constitutional amendment that requires any furtherance of gambling be submitted to the voters. Representative Lima said, “since we already have a lottery and scratch tickets in RI, I do not believe the question would have to be submitted to the voters. However if the constitutional lawyers determine that it would, we can place it on the ballot along with Governor’s Raimondo legalized sports betting contained in her state budget proposal if that also is considered an expansion of gambling.”
New Hampshire has estimated that this new form of online gambling would generate nearly 13 million dollars. Rhode Island with its reputation as being one of the top states for spending per individual on legalized gambling could generate much more than $13 million, possibly as high as $20 -$25 million.
The legislation would also mandate that 50% of the revenue generated from online scratch tickets and online lottery ticket sales be dedicated solely to reduce our unfunded pension liability and help get this pension fund to the 80 % level that we promised our retirees and pensioners. The other 50% would go into the general fund or to other dedicated programs if the legislature so decided.
While many will say that gambling is not the right way to raise revenue, Representative Lima said, “regardless of your opinion, gambling in Rhode Island and all across the world is a fact of life. It is here to stay and is an integral part of our yearly revenue stream that brings relief to the taxpayers. My legislation merely puts a modern face on gambling that has been an accepted form of adult entertainment for centuries.”
New Hampshire was the first state in the nation to offer legal lottery games. After a ten-year effort the state finally legalized its lottery in 1963.
Following the passage of an omnibus bill tied to the state’s 2018-19 budget, New Hampshire could soon become the fifth state to offer online lottery games. That would include online instant-win tickets.
Where did online lottery come from?
Online lottery came about when the legislature passed a rider bill, H 517, that would authorize the state lottery to offer online games. A separate measure that would authorize keno games was also passed, so keno could end up being offered online.
According to the proposal’s supporters, the online lottery games will appeal to a younger demographic and bring in an estimated $13 million annually in additional revenue.
The bill still needs the signature of Gov. Chris Sununu before it officially becomes law.
What the NH lottery bill says
According to the summary, the bill “allows the lottery commission to sell lottery tickets on the Internet and by mobile applications and create certain practices to address problem gaming in such sales.”
The full section of the bill dealing with online lottery sales reads:
(e) May be sold by or for the lottery commission through the use of mobile applications by mobile devices or over the Internet. With respect to such sales, the lottery commission shall provide:
(1) Age verification measures to be undertaken to block access to and prevent sales of lottery tickets to people under the age of 18 years. Such measures shall include requiring players to register for an account at a lottery retailer licensed pursuant to this chapter.
(2) That lottery purchases shall be limited to transactions initiated and completed within the geographic borders of the state of New Hampshire.
(3) Wager limits for daily, weekly, and monthly amounts for each player and account consistent with the best practices in addressing problem gambling.
(4) A voluntary self-exclusion program for players to self-exclude themselves from wagering for set periods of time.
NH is different from other online lottery states.
The only notable difference between the New Hampshire bill and bills passed and introduced in other states is the provision that registration must be done in person at a brick-and-mortar retailer.
Concord Monitor Statehouse reporter Allie Morris described the current proposal to New Hampshire Public Radio thusly:
Under the current proposal, in order for users to download this app, you would have to go and register at a brick-and-mortar store first, and that’s where that age verification would take place.
And something that I understand would be a big difference between playing in a store and playing on your phone would be right now, if you go and buy a scratch ticket at a grocery store or a convenience store, you have to pay cash for that ticket. My understanding is that you could set up a credit card account when you go in and register to verify your age. It could be hooked up to your phone so you could play online.
For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903