Sell SC lottery tickets online, legislator suggests

Charleston Republican says move would boost state’s sales

ashain@thestate.comJanuary 9, 2013 

— S.C. lottery players may be able to forget about long convenience store lines the next time the Powerball jackpot reaches Donald Trump-sized proportions.

State Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, suggested Wednesday that South Carolina consider selling lottery tickets online to boost already rising sales.

“Why not use the Internet to enhance what we’re doing? It seems like common sense,” Limehouse said after a meeting that included discussion of the S.C. lottery’s budget proposal. “With dwindling sources of revenue to run state government, the lottery is one of the bright spots.”

S.C. lottery sales increased 8.5 percent to $1.1 billion in 2011-12. The lottery’s profits contributed nearly $300 million that lawmakers use to pay for college scholarships, K-12 school projects, school buses and libraries.

And sales are up nearly 9 percent through the first five months of the current fiscal year, aided by a rush for tickets from a $587 million Powerball jackpot in November.

At least two states, Illinois and Georgia, started selling lottery tickets online last year. Michigan is set to begin later this year.

S.C. lawmakers would need to approve online lottery sales. No legislation has been introduced.

State lottery executive director Paula Harper Bethea said she would follow whatever direction that legislators pass, but she wants to make sure underage purchasers don’t buy tickets.

Georgia monitors the age of players with mandatory registration and tries to prevent abuse by limiting account activity, according to published reports.

Bethea said she also wants the lottery to continue helping S.C. merchants that sell tickets. “We drive business inside their door.”

Merchants receive a 7 percent commission on lottery ticket sales.

“Our retailers are not excited about that (online) prospect,” Bethea said. “They are our true partner in this. … We are happy being a traditional lottery.”

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