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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Sunday could forever change the landscape for lottery sales.
That's when Illinois will become the first state to sell online lottery tickets, which will provide more money for the state, something it says it desperately needs. According to research estimates, Mega Millions online ticket sales could be $78 to $118 million annually, about half of which would go directly to the state.
"The idea is for the state to maximize revenue in an ethical and socially responsible manner," Illinois State Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones told the The State Journal-Register. "One of the major problems with this lottery and a lot of lotteries in the United States is that it's so narrowly based. A finite group of people play a lot, and what a successful lottery is all about is getting a large number of people to play a little."
However, perhaps lost in the hoopla surrounding online lottery sales is the effect it could have on Illinois convenience stores. Often, customers who enter a c-store to buy a lottery ticket make an additional purchase as well.
Ilinois could face other logistical issues as well, such as making sure an Internet consumer is the minimum required age to buy a ticket and that they are actually purchasing the ticket in the state. According to the news outlet, the state believes it has solved that problem via a registration process.
In addition, although 24/7 purchasing of lottery tickets will probably be quite lucrative for the Illinois' lottery's bottom line, gambling addicts may not be able to control their purchasing habits. That fact led Anita Bedell, executive director of the Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems to tell the news source that online lottery ticket sales "set a dangerous precedent."
According to the The State Journal-Register, Jones said Illinois officials are leaning toward a purchasing limit to help ease that problem. Officials are leaning toward a limit of $100 per drawing, per week. MegaMillions tickets cost $1 each, with two drawings per week.