The state of Illinois is set to become the first US state to allow sales of its lottery tickets over the Internet, following the legal opinion issued by the Department of Justice in December 2011. The new service is due to go live on Sunday 25 March and, based on what GBGC learned at the Smart Tech conference this week, state lotteries around the US will be watching with great interest.
To begin with the Illinois Lottery will only allow tickets sales for the MegaMillions and Lotto to be made through its website. Tickets for Powerball might be added at a later date, legislation permitting.

State Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones explained the move: “The idea is for the state to maximise revenue in an ethical and socially responsible manner. One of the major problems with this [Illinois] lottery and a lot of the lotteries in the United States is that it’s so narrowly based. A finite group of people play a lot, and what a successful lottery is all about is getting a large number of people to play a little.”
Lorien Pilling, Director at Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, said: “The majority of state lotteries are not exploiting the opportunities afforded by Internet and mobile technologies. In the past there may have been some reasons for this – regulatory, vested interests, executive caution – but they are becoming less and less valid in the current economic age and with the technology that is available.”
“Offering new sales channels like Internet and mobile sales can be a catalyst for growth. Internet and mobile sales channels enable lotteries to attract new customers and more customers in demographic segments where retail lottery participation is lower.”
If the results from Illinois prove a success, it is fully expected that other lotteries in the US will follow Illinois’ lead.