Earlier this week, the NC Lottery Commission shelved a proposal that could bring legalized online video gambling to every mobile phone, tablet and home computer in North Carolina. Prior to the Commission’s meeting on Tuesday morning, NC Family president John L. Rustin joined the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association and other interested parties in expressing significant concerns about the suggested implementation of “Digital Instants.” These “games” closely mimic video poker and video sweepstakes gambling, which are currently illegal in the state.
In an email to lottery commission members on December 1, Rustin wrote, “The approval of Digital Instants would represent a huge expansion of state-sponsored gambling in North Carolina that will entice more and more citizens to throw away their hard-earned dollars on a false ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme. In the process, this will result in more lottery players going deeper into debt and more families being ravaged by the inherent economic and social problems associated with gambling debt and gambling addiction.” He then asked the Commission to “oppose the initiation of ‘Digital Instants’ in North Carolina.”
Here are several news reports about the Commission meeting:
• Online instant lottery games not so instant in NC (WRAL video)
• NC lottery officials delay vote on online games (WNCN video)
• North Carolina lottery looking at online scratch-off sales (Journalnow.com)
These types of video-based lottery games are currently available only in Michigan, Kentucky and Georgia. A review of Michigan’s Instant Online Games website illustrates how closely these games resemble video poker and sweepstakes with themes based on Christmas, blackjack, keno, dice, sporting events, and cartoon characters. A quick “Free Demo” of the games shows how mindlessly and rapidly a participant can play game after game, racking up debt as quickly as they can press the “Play” button.
According to the Michigan Lottery website, participants link their online lottery account directly to their credit card, debit card, or bank account via direct transfer. A deposit limit of $500 per week (or $26,000 a year!) is the “default” setting for online accounts.
The NC Lottery Commission is scheduled to meet again in February and could consider a vote on the Digital Instants proposal at that time. Stay tuned to NC Family for further details in the meantime.