(The Center Square) – The Illinois Lottery has launched its Fast Play games online, a move that has some concerned online casinos have come to the Land of Lincoln.
The Lottery introduced the Fast Play games in retail outlets more than a year ago.
“In just 14 months on the market, players have purchased over 11.7 million Fast Play tickets in retail, generating nearly $48.3 million in sales revenue for the Illinois Lottery,” the Lottery said in an announcement.
It announced this week that Illinois is the first state in the U.S. to sell the draw game online.
“We’re excited to offer our players the ability to play Fast Play whenever and wherever they want,” said Harold Mays, Illinois Lottery acting director.
Players can buy tickets ranging from $1 to $10 and play them instantly through their computer or other device.
Anitia Bedell with Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems follows gambling legislation closely at the statehouse and was caught off guard by instant online draw games.
“I don’t know how they can do this without the legislation for it,” Bedell said.
A spokesperson for the Lottery pointed to the state statute that allows for draw games to be sold online, saying Fast Play tickets are not instant tickets.
“The Department may offer Lotto, Lucky Day Lotto, Mega Millions, Powerball, Pick 3, Pick 4, and other draw games that are offered at retail locations through the Internet program,” the law states.
Bedell said it’s another step to full-blown online casinos.
“I think this could lead to a lot of problems and people are going to lose more money than they plan, so I think it’s a terrible idea,” Bedell said. “Making it more accessible on a cell phone or a computer or a tablet at home is just going to increase problems.”
She also worried the option being available online leaves little oversight and could have minors gambling online without their parents knowledge.
There are limits. Players can only buy 20 tickets at a time, and are limited in how many tickets they can purchase in a 24 hour period. Bedell said that will do little for those addicted to gambling.
“On the internet gambling, there’s just not enough controls and not enough help to keep people from losing everything,” Bedell said.
Those with gambling problems should call 1-800-GAMBLER.