House approves bill keeping lottery sales from going online

Just in case the Colorado Lottery is considering selling scratch-off tickets over the Internet, it may not be for long.

Under a bill that won preliminary approval in the Colorado House on Monday, the lottery wouldn’t be able to do as other states have — and what it is considering — and sell tickets online, said House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, who introduced HB1142.

DelGrosso and other supporters of the measure from both sides of the political aisle said the measure merely prohibits the Colorado Lottery from selling online.

If the lottery wishes to do so, it would have to get another bill introduced into the Legislature to give it that authority.

“We lay down in the (Colorado) Constitution and the statutes where and what forms of gambling are allowed,” said Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village. “What this bill does is it says that before we expand the areas and types of gambling that are allowed in Colorado, we must come and pass a bill to expand, in this case, lottery ticket sales to online. This prohibition is not a prohibition for all time.”

Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, said the bill is intended to protect private stores that sell tickets from losing business.

“This is, in a very simple way, a protectionist measure to simply stop the market force, stop technology from emerging and put this status quo in place,” Pabon said. “It is a step in the wrong direction because what are we going to do next when technology again sheds its opportunities upon a new industry?”

But DelGrosso said if there’s any protectionism going on, it’s to prevent minors from gambling.

“Last time I checked, government is not a part of the free market,” he said. “The lottery is a state-run monopoly, so that is something that we have purview over and we can decide how it is implemented.”

DelGrosso said several private businesses, such as liquor stores and convenience stores, made investments to sell tickets. Now, the lottery is considering doing an end-run around them by selling tickets directly to buyers, cutting out those retail sales, he said.

“If people start buying online, (the lottery) becomes direct competitors with all of those who made the investment,” DelGrosso said. “They also become online gambling, and they become direct competitors with those who have a constitutional right to have gambling.”

Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, said there is a clear difference between a state-run, publicly supported endeavor and the free market.

“Since when are we in the free market, and if that’s the case, why don’t we go into online pornography sales because it’s the biggest money maker on the Internet,” Gardner said. “Really? The free market? The things that are said down here that are not subject to any critical scrutiny are astounding to me, and this is one of them.”

The bill requires a final House vote, which could come as early as today, before it can head to the Senate for more debate.


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