Lawmaker questions "lottery gone wild" with electronic expansion

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As the Minnesota Lottery shifts to offer more online gaming and ticketing, some state lawmakers wonder if it's time to draw the line.

"The way it looks to me is we have the lottery gone wild because they think they can do anything they want at any time they want," said Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, said.

The Associated Press reports the comments came as leaders of the state lottery testified about the controversial growth of Internet gambling before the House Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee on Wednesday morning.

Lottery director Ed Van Petten assured lawmakers that the agency has no plans to get into casino-style games. This week the state lottery in Delaware's lottery adds online slots, roulette and blackjack games. But he said that profitable scratch-off tickets will soon be available in Minnesota in an electronic form. Powerball and Mega Millions tickets can already be purchased online and as gas pump e-tickets.

Rep. Davids questioned if the lottery has authority to add the games without legislative approval. He also expressed concern that the ease of purchase might create gambling problems.

Van Petten countered that the electronic offerings match what customers can already buy and added that safeguards are in place to thwart problem gambling, such as limits on how much a lottery player can electronically wager each week.

Discussion of funding the new Vikings Stadium with lottery proceeds did not move off the drawing board as revenue-generating options were reviewed. Voters approved the creation of the Minnesota lottery 23 years ago. In the fiscal year ending in June, MPR reported that record profits were recorded as a result of some giant Powerball jackpots. It was the sixth consecutive year of record sales.

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