Pandora’s Box Opens a Little Wider Next Week


Whether you're looking for some extra cash on the side or a  full-time job, making money on the Internet can offer some diverting  alternatives to your regular job.

Whether you’re looking for some extra cash on the side or a full-time job, there is money to be made on the Internet.

Pandora’s box of gambling options was opened a long time ago; its contents leak out slowly at times, but at other times they leap out all at once into the atmosphere and take over.  The last couple of years has been one of those leaping into atmosphere times as gaming has spread driven by the bad economy; states desperate for more money have turned to gambling more and more frequently.  Unnoticed sometimes in the rush for slot machines in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland or Florida and the responsive push for table games in West Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania is the expansion of lottery options.

Lotteries are usually created to fund some specific need such as education, roads or senior services.  Over time the cost of those services always increases and that puts pressure on lottery directors to increase lottery revenues to meet their objectives.  At the same time, every expansion of gaming within a state also takes part of the discretionary spending away from the lotteries; you cannot add slot machines in Pennsylvania, casinos in Illinois or table games in West Virginia without taking some of the money that might have been spent on the state lottery away.

The options available to a lottery depend on the state and the exact wording of the enabling legislation; sometimes lotteries can add video lottery terminals (slot machines) or any other new game or device they chose without any additional legislative authority and sometimes not, it depends on the state.  The same is true of putting games online; some states lotteries can simply put the lottery online and others would require legislation to use the Internet.  It is the combination of the two that represents the largest threat to the gaming industry and indeed to any conventional regulatory scheme.  By that I simply mean a state lottery that can add VLTs and go online without any additional legislative authorization is a serious threat to change the way the game is played.

Next week we will get a peak at that possibility when the New Hampshire lottery goes online with several games. A slot machine and a poker game are being advertised, but at the moment no one knows exactly what that means.  In any case a person has to purchase a “ticket” – which I am assuming is a debit card – at a conventional lottery outlet and then play the game online and you have to go back to the outlet to collect your winnings; the tickets are limited to $100, but I have not read where the number of tickets were limited, or about a mechanism that would prevent a person from going to multiple outlets to purchase tickets. Members of the state legislature were caught off guard, they have been debating expanding gaming and naively believed that it was there soul province – not true.  And there lies the danger, because once the first state lottery puts slot machines online the box is fully open, the cat out of the bag and the world of gaming forever changed, without congress, gaming commissions or your local minster getting a say in the affair.

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