The Georgia Lottery was scheduled to start selling online lottery tickets on November 25, 2012. The date passed but online lottery sales never launched on Galottery.com. The state’s lottery did launch their iHope card. That card is a Discover debit card funded by cash deposits at lottery retailers. While Georgia Lottery players can now receive the iHope card, it is nothing more than a standard debit card at this time. It cannot yet be used to purchase online lottery tickets.
No Official Announcement From Georgia Lottery
A representative for the Georgia Lottery told me that Georgia Lottery officials had no public statement as to why the launch date passed without the online games going live. The representative told me that the launch was “delayed indefinitely” and that they had no other information and no new launch date.
The Georgia Lottery Corporation Board of Directors approved online lottery ticket sales in July 2012. Tickets for lotto games were to be rolled out first. These games include Mega Millions, Power Ball, and the daily Fantasy 5 drawings.
Online scratch off tickets were the next scheduled Georgia Lottery product to be sold online. These tickets would have resembled traditional scratch off tickets as well as tickets that would play like slot machines. These types of tickets would violate a provision in the proposed Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012, commonly referred to in the online poker community as the Reid/Kyl bill. This bill would ban the sale of instant win tickets online as they may be used as a workaround to offer online slot machines.
The Georgia Lottery website’s FAQ still states that online lottery ticket sales will launch on November 25th:
Q. Can Georgia Lottery tickets be purchased via the mail or the Internet?
A. The Georgia Lottery Corporation does not offer sale of Georgia Lottery tickets via the mail. As of November 25, 2012, Georgia Lottery Players Club members are able to purchase Mega Millions, Powerball, and Fantasy 5 tickets on the Georgia Lottery’s website while located within the state of Georgia.
The lack of any type of official announcement by the Georgia Lottery about the postponement of online ticket sales only makes industry observers wonder what the hold up is. Is there a technical issue standing in the way or is the potential for a new federal law regulating online gambling enough to make state lotteries postpone already approved expansions of online gambling?