Ohio may join the club of US states that offer an online lottery.
The Ohio state lottery is planning to launch what they call “iLottery” through desktop and mobile applications for existing lottery games. Kentucky, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are amongst the eight other states that offer online lottery products in the US.
Pat McDonald, Ohio Lottery Director, said, “By allowing additional methods of purchasing existing content, the lottery can keep up with the way people have become accustomed to buying everything from music and books to their groceries.”
The state lottery officials are still in the process of drafting the details of the proposal. Comparing with how neighboring Michigan increased its tax revenue by offering online lottery products, the state lottery is eyeing at around $100 million in revenues with the new move.
However, the proposal has raised concerns amongst the local lottery merchants and dealers. Alex Boehnke, a lobbyist for the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, said, “There are certainly some concerns about moving toward a mobile application. However, we’ll have to dig down into the fine details of any proposal before we take a position.”
Contradicting such opinions, Macdonald’s asserted, “Our research shows that other states that have ilottery saw increased brick and mortar store sales. They didn’t cannibalize them.”
Another significant opposition to the plans is coming from conservative religious groups.
Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values, a conservative Christian group, opposed the move and said that “Growing the lottery in any form is bad policy for the state of Ohio. It’s a regressive tax in its truest form. There are plenty of other ways for us to fund education without exploiting impoverished people.”