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Hoosier Lottery watching Illinois' online-sales effort

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Indiana lottery officials are keeping their eye on an Illinois effort to sell lottery tickets online.

The Hoosier Lottery hasn't started formally looking at online sales, but spokesman Al Larsen told The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne that officials will consider it depending on how the program in Illinois works out.

"We have been monitoring everything," Larsen said. "When you get down to it, we have an obligation to maximize revenue for Hoosier taxpayers, so we have to look at all sales channels."

Larsen said the lottery wouldn't need approval from the state legislature, just from the five-member lottery commission. But Larsen said the group would talk to Gov. Mitch Daniels to get feedback before making any proposals and would also consult with store owners who sell lottery tickets.

On Sunday, Illinois began selling tickets online for the multistate Mega Millions game and its state lottery. It's the first state to try an online program.

The system in Illinois sets up a direct deposit account for players with winnings of less than $600. Those who win more than that will receive email notification that they've won. Players will also be able to set up subscriptions for automatic wagers.

"I would imagine it will be very attractive to other states," Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones said. "It's a fantastic way to broaden the player base."

They've also set up several protections to keep out-of-state or underage players from buying tickets, including Internet protocol address checks and requiring players to give their name, address, Social Security number and date of birth at registration.

Scott Imus, executive director of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said online sales could potentially take customers out of traditional stores. He hoped that if Indiana enacted an online system, it would at least require winners to cash in their tickets at a store.

Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, said he isn't sure whether the legislature would want to get involved with the debate but that an online program would be worth review.

"I've gotten a sense in recent years that there's not a real appetite for expansion of gambling in the legislature," he said. "On the other hand, we're certainly competing against these other states. We're obviously a gaming state. But once you've started, where do you draw the line?"

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