The Kentucky Lottery Corp. is going where its future customers presumably will be doing business — on the internet. Sales online of Powerball, MegaMillions and Kentucky Cash Ball began Monday, making Kentucky the third state to offer lottery tickets through internet accounts.
Modest predictions have been made for online revenue in the first year. Overall sales for 2015-16 will be $994.5 million, while online sales in 2016-17 will be approximately $7 million, according to the state’s projections.
“Our customers are aging, and in order to maintain our business, we need to be more attractive to a younger demographic who are accustomed to conducting a majority of their retail purchases online,” Kentucky Lottery Corp. President and CEO Arch Gleason said in a news release. “This group is very mobile, and they expect brands to be accessible online and on their devices. We’re delivering what they want.”
From a business perspective, this makes good sense.
But the rollout of online lottery sales could be trouble for many Kentucky families with a breadwinner who has a gambling problem.
Assuming a customer has access to the internet and sets up a lottery account, it will be easy and tempting to buy lottery tickets at any time from the kitchen table or on a cellphone. There won’t be many obstacles to an impulse buy. At least before online sales were legal, a buyer had to put on shoes, grab a wallet and drive to a store to spend cash money on tickets.
Lottery officials have placed some caps on online business. A player cannot make deposits that exceed $200 daily, $500 weekly or $1,000 monthly.
Those are generous limits. At those amounts, some players could blow through all their take-home pay rather quickly.
We respect the fact that adults ought to be able to spend their own money as they please. But some players who overspend on the lottery aren’t just making poor choices for themselves. They have children who pay a price, and Kentucky has an obligation to monitor the impact of online lottery sales on them.
“It’s delivery of an existing product, just through a different channel,” lottery spokesman Chip Polston told the Lexington Herald-Leader after online sales were launched Monday. “We’re offering games we already have in retail, just through a different means.”
Technically, this is true. But online sales have the potential to create a dangerous path for lottery players who don’t know when to say when. Gambling does not build a community.
At the very least, the General Assembly and the governor’s office should keep tabs on the impact of online sales.
Kentucky New Era