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Dayton to decide fate of online lottery ticket ban

Posted by: Baird Helgeson under Gov. Mark Dayton, Democrats, Republicans, State budgets Updated: May 29, 2014 - 11:11 AM

Gov. Mark Dayton plans to sit down Thursday night and weigh the fate of a measure that would end the Minnesota State Lottery’s online scratch-off lottery ticket sales.

The governor has anguished over this piece of legislation more than any other this session. The lottery director that Dayton appointed fought hard to block the ban, but legislators overwhelmingly passed the measure with a veto-proof majority in the closing days of the session.

“I am really torn,” Dayton said recently. “I realize that if I were to veto it and they were still in session, they would override my veto.”

Many legislators argued that online sales could increase gambling addiction, but Dayton is concerned that the bill became far more sweeping and would end lottery ticket sales at gas pumps and ATMs. The measure also blocks the lottery from every expanding into casino-style games, like keno or blackjack, a provision supported by the tribal gambling industry.

“I am concerned that real impetus behind this bill was not to protect the citizens of Minnesota, but to protect the interests that now benefit from the status quo,” Dayton said. “That is the wrong reason for the legislation to be supported and passed.”

The lottery became online sales of scratch-off lottery tickets earlier this year to reach younger Minnesotans who have not embraced the traditional store-bought tickets. Lottery director Ed Van Petten said that the online sales are more of a marketing strategy to get people to buy traditional lottery tickets.

Many convenience store retailers that rely on lottery ticket sales attract customers were not persuaded by Van Petten's argument.

The scratch-off lottery ticket sales make up only a tiny fraction of the lottery’s annual sales.

Dayton has until Friday to decide whether to veto the measure, which would be his first of the legislative session.

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