Legislature moves to ban online lottery games

The Minnesota Legislature is poised to ban instant-play lottery games and tickets sold at gas pumps and ATMs.

A joint House/Senate conference committee approved the ban Thursday. It would give the Minnesota Lottery until the end of October to phase out the games.

Lawmakers have criticized Minnesota Lottery officials for expanding access to new games without getting legislative approval. But the lottery’s executive director Ed Van Petten said banning the games could cost the state millions in lost revenue and lawsuits. He said he would prefer to see Gov. Mark Dayton veto the bill.

“I’d like to continue our projects but if the Legislature doesn’t want more money, I can’t make them take money,” Van Petten said.

Several lawmakers said they weren’t buying Van Petten’s gloomy prediction in lost revenue for the state. Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, said he doesn’t think it will cost the state that much.

“That is based on projections about how this $237,000 e-scratch thing would or would not perform,” Atkins said. “So those numbers are much more murky that the ones that are in the current biennium.”

A spokesman for Dayton said he hasn’t yet formed a position on the bill.