The Hoosier Lottery is looking to add online options to its lineup in the near future. That would make Indiana the ninth state to add online versions of classic lottery games.
However, some retailers have concerns about the lottery making the online change without approval from lawmakers.
Hoosier Lottery has the authority
The Indiana General Assembly legalized the lottery in the state back in 1989.
The Hoosier Lottery was born from the Lottery Act, but that was more than 30 years ago. That’s causing some friction when it comes to moving lottery options online.
As it stands, thanks to the Lottery Act, the Hoosier Lottery appears to have the authority to move things online without legislative approval.
Lottery staff recently met with House Speaker Todd Huston to discuss the online move. Legally speaking, neither side believes that the state legislature needs to get involved to make the change happpen.
Despite that, Huston does have some concerns about retail lottery ticket sellers. He wants them on board with the process, rather than fighting against it.
“I want to make sure that whatever is done supports local retailers, the money stays in local communities. I made it extraordinarily clear that my expectation is the local retailers need to be supportive of it and you need to be make sure that they’re, you know, incredible participants in these types of discussions.”
Others are pushing back
Right now, the Hoosier Lottery Commission is running the show when it comes to adding online lottery options.
Those five members are making the change under the Lottery Act. The commission has the legal power to do so, but that hasn’t stopped some from suggesting that Indiana needs to tweak its original law.
Scot Imus, the executive director of the Indiana Food and Fuel Association, doesn’t want the Hoosier Lottery adding online options without fresh approval from the General Assembly.
His argument is based around the idea that lawmakers were not considering the internet and cell phones back in 1989, when Indiana originally passed the Lottery Act.
Matt Bell, the CEO of the Casino Association of Indiana, has similar concerns.
“We believe that this is a legislative policy discussion. There are always implications to gaming policy. And for the better part of almost 40 years it has been the legislature that has decided those questions.”
Both are worried that online lottery options would be a blow to in-person gambling sales in the state.
Despite those concerns, there’s nothing that either Imus or Bell can really do to change the situation.
At least for now, the legislature doesn’t want to get involved. That will leave the door open for the Hoosier Lottery to add online options without any real hurdles to clear.
Online gambling doesn’t hurt retail
Whenever an online version of an established gambling option comes around, some inevitably start worrying about the move cannibalizing retail sales.
However, that isn’t usually the case. To put it simply, online gambling options typically do not lower the sales numbers of their retail counterparts.
It’s all about making things more accessible for Hoosiers. Adding online options adds to overall sales, rather than just pushing the numbers away from in-person options.
Take sports betting in Indiana, which was originally only available at casinos around the state, as an example.
In September 2019, casinos took in over $35 million worth of sports wagers. Compared to the overall sports betting numbers from January 2022, that September handle was minuscule.
Hoosiers bet over $500 million on sports last month, with nearly $42 million of that coming from in-person wagers at casinos.
In short, the number of in-person wagers is growing, not shrinking. The Hoosier Lottery has a chance to create a similar situation.
Adding more options will give the online Hoosier Lottery a chance to grow hand-in-hand with in-person sales. Plus, Hoosiers will have the extra convenience of buying lottery tickets online.
That could be a reality sooner rather than later with the Hoosier Lottery’s new changes on the way.