Minnesota Governor Vetoes Online Lottery Ban Bill

June 2, 2014

By James Kilsby, GamblingCompliance

Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a bill Friday banning online instant games, citing a need for the Minnesota Lottery to embrace technological change.

Dayton, a Democrat, refused to add his signature to legislation that would have prohibited the sale of lottery tickets at gas pumps and ATMs as well as electronic instant games on the Internet.

Lawmakers were irked by the Minnesota Lottery’s February launch of electronic scratch-off games, passing Senate File 2642 earlier this month to ban them from October while still allowing online sales of traditional lottery tickets to continue.

But Dayton on Friday said the state’s lottery director did not appear to have overstepped his authority in giving the green light to the online games without legislative approval.

“The Internet is an increasingly common way for the public to access services,” Dayton said in a letter explaining his veto.

“By taking steps to modernize its operations and make the same games it sells in paper form available in new ways, the lottery is attempting to respond to changes in technology and public preferences.”

As the state’s 2014 legislative session has ended, lawmakers will be unable to override Dayton’s decision to veto the bill.

That means Minnesota appears set to remain at the vanguard of states pursuing online lottery expansion, at the very least until next year when lawmakers return to St. Paul.

Illinois and Georgia also sell regular lottery tickets online, and Georgia offers online keno. But the Minnesota Lottery is currently the only lottery in the country to offer web-based instant games.

Dayton, who faces re-election in November, urged lottery officials Friday to re-establish “constructive professional relationships” with lawmakers and keep them better informed of its development plans. 

“With all due respect, however, the authorization for the lottery stems directly from the people of Minnesota,” the governor said.