INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers want to make sure they have a say on whether the Hoosier Lottery offers online gambling, and some of them are raising concerns about the idea.
The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports the lottery has been in talks with a private vendor about expanding to online gaming. It’s an idea the lottery has been exploring for several years.
While Indiana currently allows sports gambling online, some states also offer digital lottery games.
“It’s growing quickly,” said Kyle Anderson, an economist with the IU Kelley School of Business. “We’re seeing a lot of growth in this area.”
“We think it’s an important part, potentially, of our future,” said Matt Bell, president and CEO of the Casino Association of Indiana. “We’ve seen states be very successful with it.”
A spokesperson for the Hoosier Lottery sent us a statement, which reads: “Changes in consumer behavior are driving many organizations like ours to identify new and innovative ways to provide options to today’s customers. While no formal action has been taken, for the past few years, we have been researching innovations in the industry including potential changes to the way our games are played.”
Some worry about the potential impact, including how brick-and-mortar stores that sell tickets could be affected.
“We have our concerns,” said Scot Imus, executive director of the Indiana Food and Fuel Association. “Our members sell the vast majority of lottery tickets.”
Some state lawmakers want to make sure they’re part of the online gambling discussion.
The Senate has added an amendment to a tax bill that would require the legislature’s approval before the Hoosier Lottery could offer online games.
“I’m a lot more anxious to give people back their money than to collect it,” said House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers). “And I just said I’d like to know the compelling reason why now.”
“We’ve been vetting gaming issues for a long time, especially with the new technology and things that come up,” said House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne). “This is really no different.”
Not everyone agrees that the legislature should be involved in the decision.
“I support anyone’s freedom to participate in online gaming,” said Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis). “Do I think the state should be sanctioning that? No.”
And some lawmakers from both parties are concerned about online gambling itself.
“Online gaming especially is probably going to affect communities of color negatively,” Taylor said.
“Putting video game terminals in or having on your phone something that looks or acts like a slot machine, I’ve got a problem with that,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville).
The bill with the amendment, House Bill 1002, is still in committee in the Senate. If the bill passes in committee, it heads to the Senate floor for a vote.