OPINION

Iowa Lottery should embrace tech

If an infusion of technology can slow or reverse recent Iowa Lottery revenue declines while safeguarding against the pitfalls of gambling, the organization should pursue the possibility of offering drawing tickets on mobile devices.

A majority of the proceeds from the Iowa Lottery, which is arguably one of the least troublesome forms of gambling, are placed in the state’s general fund. Since 1992, more than $1.23 billion in lottery dollars has been placed in that fund, primarily earmarked for education.

Lottery moneys are also directly placed in the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund, which provides assistance to qualified veterans in the form of job training, college tuition, health care and counseling.

In addition, Iowa Lottery revenues have proved flexible, with portions benefiting shorter term economic development and environmental programs throughout the years.

We are wary of changes that might increase or perpetuate problem gambling, but we see little chance that the convenience of purchasing lottery drawing tickets on a mobile phone would create additional issues. We do not support the inclusion of scratch tickets in state’s mobile offering.

Since Iowa residents can already download an app from the Illinois Lottery and use it to purchase tickets for that state’s drawing, we believe the Iowa Lottery should be able to use similar technology.

We also encourage the implementation of safeguards, including reasonable spending limits and restricted access from minors.

Conveniences, such as automatic notification of winning numbers, account history review and personalization of spending limits, will please current lottery players and should be included in the Iowa offering.

While uploading funds to a government lottery account and using funds in that account to purchase drawing tickets has expanded European lottery markets, such offerings have not yet been fully embraced by the American public.

For this reason, we also remind state officials that Lottery dollars may continue to dwindle and not always be available.

Lawmakers and the Governor should temper their willingness to engage in multiyear general fund commitments in light of such uncertainty.

Finally, we are opposed to moves by the federal government that would result in less state control or oversight of the Iowa Lottery.

• Comments: (319) 398-8292 or editorial@thegazette.com.

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