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Dayton is not alone in questioning whether the opposition is really being driven by those, as he said, “who have a very lucrative piece of this gambling business and don’t want to give any of it up.”
Online scratch-off ticket sales accounted for $200,000 out of the lottery’s $139 million in sales since the system went live in February.
The governor said legislators’ additional push to ban lottery ticket sales at gas pumps is another sign that “the fires have been lit by some of the interest groups.”
Former GOP Sen. Dick Day, now a Capitol lobbyist, said the sudden outrage is stoked by tribes defending their lucrative casinos.
“The Indians run this place. Period,” said Day, who saw the tribes outmaneuver him on a plan to bring casino-style gambling to area horse racing tracks. “Anything they want around here, they get. And you know why? It’s all money.”
Tribes with gambling interests have donated to legislators in both parties and remain a significant political force at the Capitol.
McCarthy dismissed Day’s assertion. “We haven’t even spoken with the sponsors of the measure,” he said.
Lobbying in full force
With the issue gaining momentum, forces deeply vested in the outcome are muscling up their lobbying teams.
Linq3, a New York company that makes the interactive gas station pumps that sell lottery tickets, has upped its lobbying force at the Capitol from three members to eight in the past two months.
Its lobbyists are trying to separate their interactive gas pumps from the furor over online lottery ticket sales.
“There has been a lot of misinformation about what our technology does and does not do,” said David Johnson, a lead lobbyist for Linq3.
Van Petten said voiding the contracts with online vendors could cost taxpayers $9 million in early termination fees and hurt the conservation groups that get money from lottery proceeds.
“It’s a big mess,” said Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, who opposes online gambling. “I don’t think you can cut contracts in the middle. … That is going to create more liability for the taxpayers.”
House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he is troubled by the online sales and expects the ban to be voted on in the coming week.
“Generally, I think we need to look much, much more closely before we let the lottery director expand online,” Thissen said.
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