The Minnesota Senate voted Friday to do away with the sale of online scratch-off tickets, as well as at gas pumps and ATMS, following a contentious debate over whether the Minnesota Lottery’s director had the authority to expand into online ticket sales without the Legislature’s approval.
The Senate voted 56-5 for the ban, which would take effect Oct. 30. Online sales of Lotto-style games like Powerball would remain intact.
The vote followed harsh criticism over the move by lawmakers, which continued on the Senate floor before the vote. Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, called the move indicative of “The theme of overreach by this administration,” similar to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie launching online voter registration without lawmakers’ approval. A judge last month ordered that to a halt, but the Legislature quickly approved it, keeping the website intact.
Lottery Executive Director Ed Van Petten said Thursday that he expected the move to outlaw online sales would pass, but was disappointed.
“It’s obvious the movement was based on total misinformation, but it is what it is,” Van Petten said. “The Legislature is telling me they don’t want the additional revenue and that’s their choice.”
Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said the move would cost the state $11.7 million, but “sends a pretty clear message that the Senate does not want what they consider to be an expansion of online gambling without legislative approval.”
Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, pointed out that Van Petten formerly ran the Kansas Lottery, where electronic scratch-offs were implemented in 2004, only to be shut down three years later. But Pappas jumped to Van Petten’s defense, saying Minnesota’s electronic scratch-offs were “a different and updated means of delivery,” adding that it’s Van Petten’s job to generate revenue for the state through the Lottery.
“There are going to be financial consequences,” Pappas said.
The measure heads next to the House.