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Scratch off online? Lottery moving ahead with plan, critics seek delay

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The Minnesota Lottery is moving ahead with plans for an online version of its scratch-off games, but critics of the idea want it delayed to give the Legislature a chance to reconsider.

At a Capitol hearing Thursday members of a group called Citizens Against Gambling Expansion argued the lottery should need permission from the Legislature to bring its Minnesota games to the Web, the Pioneer Press reports. The group maintains the instant results and repeated plays available online would make an Internet version of the scratch off games more addicting than the paper cards sold in stores.

KARE-11's report says lottery officials plan to introduce their first online game by the end of the month, but opponents want that delayed to allow for legislative debate in the session that starts in February. The lottery's executive director, Ed Van Petten, tells the station the move online is a convenience more than an expansion, since the online games will mirror those available at retailers. He says online losses will be capped at $50 a week.

As the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports, Minnesota customers who set up an online account can already buy tickets for national lottery games, such as Powerball and Mega Millions. But the Post-Bulletin says the number of people who have done that is miniscule.

Lottery officials tell the paper sales of scratch off tickets to young customers have plummeted in the last decade. Using a mouse and cursor to scratch off a card is seen as a possible way to reverse that trend. Van Petten told lawmakers last fall the Minnesota Lottery has no plans to use the Web to introduce casino-style games such as poker or slots.

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