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Senate approves online scratch-off ticket ban

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The Minnesota Senate dealt a blow to the state lottery's online operations by approving a measure that would ban ticket sales on the Web.

The ban senators approved Friday would affect online scratch-off tickets and sales of the games at gas station pumps.

According to the Star Tribune, Minnesota Lottery director Ed Van Petten has come under fire from lawmakers for starting the online lottery ticket sales without approval from the legislature.

The measure passed as part of a larger gambling bill that cleared the Senate on a vote of 55-2.

"They are making a huge mistake," Van Petten told Star Tribune, on Friday. He believes the lottery was in its legal right to launch online ticket sales.

The state lottery has offered online lottery tickets for years, but it made history in February when it became the first U.S. state lottery to offer an online scratch-off ticket. That month the lottery began offering an online version of its Spicy 7's scratch-off tickets. Some critics have felt the online version mimics slot machine gambling.

"I am not saying the lottery director overstepped his bounds," said Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, to the Star Tribune. "But it is a reasonable request to ask the lottery to slow down."

A similar measure is moving forward in the House. The House Commerce Committee approved the ban on Thursday.

"We're going to now have gambling in every smart phone. Every iPhone. Every school, every library every Starbucks across the state," Jake Grassel of the group Citizens Against Gambling Expansion told WCCO.

Gov. Mark Dayton has expressed concerns that legislators may be micromanaging the Lottery's operations, but he has not said one way or another where he is on the issue.

The Associated Press reports Van Petten met with Dayton privately on Wednesday, but the lottery leader wouldn't discuss details of their conversation.

Van Petten estimates stopping the sales would cost the state around $2.5 million. He adds that some subscriptions for the games were sold on an annual basis, so he wasn't sure if they could be stopped immediately if the bill became law.

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