Vermont holds off on online lottery

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(Host) The Vermont Lottery has no plans at this time to expand their services to include online gaming. But the proposal could emerge in the future if neighboring states decide to offer the new type of lottery.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) As many states across the country grapple with revenue shortfalls and tough budget decisions, some of the states are considering an expansion of their lottery operations as a way to generate new revenue. A number of states are looking at the possibility of offering games using the Internet.

Online gambling has become a very lucrative enterprise although there are questions about its legality. To circumvent U.S. laws, a number of businesses operate their sites from off-shore locations.

Vermont Lottery director Alan Yandow says there are no plans for Vermont to offer gambling options on the Internet at this time:

(Yandow) “I don’t see Vermont heading in that direction in the near future. I think there are a couple of issues. One whether it’s even allowed, given the current federal statutes. I think there’s some ambiguity there. I think some states are perhaps willing to try online gaming and see if they can make it work. If Vermont in the future wishes to consider it, as a public policy question I think there are a number of steps along the way – starting with the Lottery Commission itself, that five-person policy board, as well as the executive branch and the legislative branch of Vermont’s government.”

(Kinzel) Yandow says any expansion of the lottery will depend, in part, on what neighboring states do in the future:

(Yandow) “I don’t see us coming up with a new and different way of gaming in the state of Vermont for the foreseeable future. But we will look at what potential there is out there and what other states have done successfully or can do successfully and try to plan for the future. And then enter a public policy debate at that point.”

(Kinzel) That public debate could also include discussions about video lottery machines because a number of New England states are taking a serious look at this form of gambling. Yandow says the Lottery will generate roughly $20 million for the state’s Education Fund this year. That represents a small increase over last year.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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