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Online lottery sales OKed in Georgia

POSTED: July 20, 2012 2:04 p.m.

ATLANTA — GeorgiaLotterycustomers will soon be able to buy tickets with the click of a mouse.

Lotteryofficials on Thursday approved anonlineticket system for the first time, with sales expected to begin this fall. Theonlinesales are projected to increase thelottery'srevenue by millions, which would help the state's lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship and pre-kindergarten programs.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who has opposed expanding gambling in Georgia, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he was fine withonline lotteryticket sales.

"I think that is a useful area to explore," Deal said. "It does open the participation up to a generation of younger citizens of our state who might not take the time to go to a store to physically purchase a ticket."

Onlinesales will initially be limited to Powerball, Mega Millions and Fantasy 5.

Lotteryofficials said controls are planned to make sure players are at least 18 and to assure tickets are bought only in Georgia. Those controls include mandatory registration, banking requirements that would match an applicant's name, address and Social Security number, and limits on how much account activity or playing time will be allowed.

"This is not a silver bullet, but the long-term potential to this is very large," GeorgiaLotteryBoard Chairman Jimmy Braswell said. "It really is just a change in our existing business model to reach a new set of players" who are Internet-savvy, he said.

The U.S. Justice Department last year reversed itself to makeonline lotterysales possible, saying the national Wire Act of 1961 applies only to sports betting. The act otherwise prohibits placing bets over telecommunications systems across state or national boundaries.

Illinois in March became the first state to selllotteryticketsonline. Some other states have approved the practice but haven't implemented it yet, and between eight and 12 other states are actively working on it, state and national gambling officials said.

Georgialotteryofficials also approved a new debit card Thursday that can be used for bothlotteryand retail transactions. It's called the "iHOPE" card. It will allow customers to preload funds, buy tickets and have their winnings automatically downloaded into the card's account. It can be used anywhere that accepts debit cards, and stores that selllotterytickets won't face debit card transaction fees forlotterysales made with the card.

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