Residents of Illinois are the first in the nation to be able to legally purchase lottery tickets via the Internet. The first legal online purchaser of a lottery ticket in the US was a Joliet resident who purchased tickets for the Mega Millions lottery at 7:03 am on Sunday March 25th, after the site officially opened 3 minutes earlier. In the first day of sales, over $15,000 of transactions were processed at the IllinoisLottery.com site.
Although the Illinois legislature approved an Internet Pilot program for testing the concept more than three years ago, the development and launch of the site were delayed due to concerns over the applicability of the Federal Wire Act to the sales. The US Department of Justice responded to a request by Illinois for clarification, and the DOJ responded in late 2011 with its opinion letter on the matter. (See Online Gambling in the US – It’s Coming.)
Once that hurdle was out of the way, “A team of more than 250 professionals located on three continents, in six locations came together to make this historic achievement possible in four months,” said Connie Laverty O’Connor, CEO of Northstar Lottery Group, the private company that manages the Illinois lottery.
Other states are poised to follow, and the door appears open now for other forms of in-state Internet gambling, including poker and casinos. Nevada is likely to be the first to offer casino games online, with a launch possible before the end of the year.