Local News

Play The N.C. Lottery Over The Internet? It Could Happen

Posted September 7, 2005 7:30 a.m. EDT

— "Log on...Win millions."

That could be a slogan one day for the North Carolina lottery.

The lottery bill that Governor Mike Easley signed into law last week allows something no other state does: online gaming.

"Our law includes specific reference to online games," said Bill Brooks, who works with the North Carolina Family Policy Council.

Experts said that phrase could be interpreted in different ways. But, they said, the phrase leaves the door open for North Carolina to become the first state to offer lottery ticket sales over the Internet.

"Conceivably, if the commission decided, that could be a method for selling tickets," said Ken Levenbook, the state' s leading expert on lotteries.

He said other states are considering selling tickets over the Internet.

The idea is for players to set up an account with the lottery commission by using a credit card.

The commission would then charge credit cards for a weekly or monthly ticket subscription.

But Brooks and other lottery opponents fear online games would lead many players into a life of compulsive gambling.

"I think it would be a travesty," Brooks said.

Opponents also said the N.C. law is too permissive: It allows the state to offer any game under way in other states.

"Here in North Carolina, the public and the General Assembly is not going to be able to have a discussion about any games that the lottery commission may take it upon itself to authorize," Brooks said.

That means if North Carolina isn't the first to offer ticket sales over the Internet, the state could simply follow another state's lead. Georgia and Illinois are already considering online ticket sales.

A spokesperson for House Speaker Jim Black predicted that it would be several years down the road before North Carolina considered online ticket sales.