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No more 'eScratch' or gas pump lottery games by the end of August

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By the end of August, you likely won't be able to play Minnesota Lottery games at the ATM or at a gas pump.

MPR News reports officials with the Minnesota Lottery plan to stop the "Play at the Pump" and ATM games by Aug. 29, while the sale of "eScratch" tickets online will end Aug. 31.

This comes after lawmakers passed a ban on such games.

According to the bill, the electronic sales had to be stopped by Sept. 25 – so the plan to end things this month means they're well ahead of schedule.

On the Minnesota Lottery's iLottery site, it notifies players of the impending closure, and details which games will be stopped on which days.

On Sept. 14, the lottery will start processing and sending out refund checks owed to those with accounts.

Why the ban?

At issue was whether the state lottery had the power to implement the online and electronic games without getting permission from legislators. (Last year, supporters of the ban also cited a concern about promoting easy access to gambling.)

Since the agency began planning the new feature in 2013, skeptics argued the agency needs lawmakers' approval first. Despite the protests, the lottery went ahead with its plans.

“The heart of the issue is who creates the laws of the state — the regulatory industry or the Legislature?” said Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine, according to the Session Daily.

In February of 2014, the first online scratch-off offerings hit the web.

Months later, the legislature passed a bill outlawing the games – but Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed it. This year, when a ban was passed again, Dayton simply opted not to sign it, meaning it became law without his signature.

The Star Tribune reported at the time lottery officials were worried the state could get sued because it will be forced to break signed contracts with vendors.

That's still a tricky issue, MPR notes, and lottery officials are working toward terminating those contracts – though it's possible the companies will be entitled to some damages, possibly $12 million or more.

When the bill was passed, the Session Daily noted an amendment that would have allowed those contracts to play out before ending lottery sales was considered, but ultimately failed.

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