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Lottery to offer electronic scratch-off games

Published 10:13am Thursday, October 31, 2013 Updated 1:23pm Thursday, October 31, 2013

Minnesotans will soon be able to scratch off lottery tickets with a click of their mouse.

The state lottery is poised to start selling the well-known games over the internet. Lottery officials say they need to stay competitive, but critics fear what could happen if the state begins to rely on Internet gambling.

The Minnesota State Lottery is doing a pretty brisk business, with sales up 4 percent – or $40 million — over last year, lottery director Ed Van Petten said.

But there’s a problem: the number of young players dropped by nearly half between 2003 and 2012, according to state lottery research.

“The belief is that the lottery is not available where these age groups shop,” Van Petten told state lawmakers today.

Lottery officials are about to change the equation by bringing games to players — to their computers, their tablets and their smart phones.

The lottery started selling draw games, like Powerball, on an online subscription basis in 2010, and it only accounted for about half of one percent of draw game sales by the Minnesota Lottery last year.

Van Petten told lawmakers that gamblers could be able to virtually scratch off lottery tickets on the Minnesota Lottery website by the end of this year.

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