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Lawmakers take aim at online lottery games

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Minnesota lawmakers are again taking aim at the sale of online scratch-off lottery games and tickets at gas pumps and ATM machines.

A House committee passed two bills Wednesday that would stop those sales opportunities for the state-run lottery, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

It's the Legislature's second run at the issue.

A bill with those restrictions passed the Legislature last session with broad support, but it was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. The veto came after the Legislature had adjourned, so lawmakers didn't have the chance to override it.

Lawmakers questioned whether lottery officials overstepped their bounds by moving forward with the new games without seeking legislative approval.

Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, the author of one of the measures, said the lottery has "gone wild, and I think we need to be clear that the Legislature will decide what we're gonna do," according to the Star Tribune.

Gambling opponents are also concerned that the new games provide easier access to gambling and could be more addictive.

Lottery director Ed Van Petten told the committee his agency has "learned our lesson," and will work more closely with the Legislature going forward, the Star Tribune notes.

He opposes the bills that the committee approved, and offered language that would make it clear the Legislature would need to approve any new games in the future.

Van Petten said sales of lottery tickets at ATMs and gas pumps have brought in about $50,000 in sales this fiscal year, and online sales account for about 1 percent of total lottery sales, according to the Pioneer Press.

He said the lottery generated $127 million last year for public programs.

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