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Online Gambling News from Hawaii and Maine

By: Ryan Alders, Wednesday March 21st 2012
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Hawaii and Maine are American states that have been in the news for their online gambling moves. Neither is in the news often for this reason, probably because their initiatives have not made any progress. The news is not very good for online gambling enthusiasts in these states.

Hawaii is the only US state, apart from Utah, that holds all forms of gambling as illegal. The legislators have been trying get a bill passed that would legalize online gambling. The last attempt was initiated in January this year. However the state Legislature could not allot time for the discussion on this bill. One of the bill's supporters, Representative Angus L.K. McKelvey, confirmed that for the time being the bill should be treated as dead. It may be introduced at some future opportune time but that would be another story. For the people of Hawaii this is the rerun of an old movie. Since attaining statehood there have been more than 150 attempts at legalizing gambling, most of them in the last 30 years.

The American state of Maine has begun its online gambling foray through a proposal of selling lottery tickets online in 2013. A bill to this effect had been introduced by Senator Debra Plowman. The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee heard evidence on Monday March 19 on this bill. Jerry Reed, director of the Maine Bureau of Lottery Operations, was one of the advocates of this bill. He pointed out that Internet purchases in all spheres have become a part of the modern lifestyle. Generation Y, consisting of 18 to 30 year olds, transacts only through the Internet and Maine Lottery needs to reach out to them to bolster its sales. In terms of value Reed was satisfied with the revenue generation but stated that the number of consumers was falling and therefore the need to include the younger population was greater. Reed also pointed out that other American states were actively pursuing this avenue.

Cheryl Timberlake, a lobbyist for Penn National Gaming, which owns Hollywood Casino, opposed the move to sell lottery tickets online. She said that if Maine Lottery began to sell lottery tickets online then the business of brick and mortar casinos would suffer. She also pointed that that retailers who sold the lottery tickets would also lose business. Timberlake wanted the online sales of lottery tickets to be in the hands of land casinos and lottery retailers so as to compensate them for loss of business. Jamie Py, president of the Energy Marketers Association, which represents convenience stores in the state that sell lottery tickets over the counter, also advocated a cautious approach that took on board all stake holders. Senator Plowman confirmed that nothing would be done in a hurry and that these are exploratory moves.

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