Michigan Lottery Takes Online Gamble

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Winning the lottery is about to get easier in Michigan.

The odds aren't getting better, but buying a ticket will be more convenient.

Starting this spring, people can buy Mega Millions and Powerball subscriptions from the comfort of home online. Michigan Lottery calls the new internet service iLottery, and a lot of businesses worry it won't pay off.

"Lottery is what people come in and play, and they buy other products with it," Tony's store owner Mike Kesto said. "Anything that goes online, it will effect our business."

That's part of why Michigan Lottery turned to online sales. They said they need to meet the demand of their players who can buy almost everything on the the internet, so why not lottery tickets, too?

"I never even dreamed about it being on online, and so, it's just something new, and something strange," Mario's store manager Ginger Tate said.

Mario's is in the top 30 of in-store lottery sales in Michigan out of 14,000. They said they support the idea because they support education. Lottery sales generated $770 million for the state school aid fund last year, and the governor hopes iLottery will boost that number.

"I think it will grow the whole pie by adding the internet piece, because the goal isn't to harm retailers, it's to actually increase opportunities for all of us to have a good experience in terms of more dollars for education," Governor Rick Snyder said.

People worry that experience will deteriorate though, sort of kill the thrill.

"We have a lot of people that like to come in and get their lottery numbers and stand and talk, and they have other people coming in that they know," Tate said. "If that takes that away from us, we're going to miss that."

Michigan Lottery said its research shows brick and mortar sales don't decline when lottery tickets are sold online, but businesses say stick to what's working.

"It does a great job the way it is, and I think we should keep it up," Kesto said.

While consumers like the idea that a snow day won't stop them from playing, they are a little skeptical.

"It's ok for some people that can't get out and do it, but I wouldn't do it, because I don't like my information on line," Aneshia Lewis said.

Buying your ticket online means people won't have to wait in line anymore and hand over cash. Credit, debit, and PayPal are all payment possibilities right now.

Governor Snyder's budget calls for $3.3 million to launch iLottery.

Most single tickets and instant games will be available online by the end of the year.

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