Skubick: The dangers of Internet lottery tickets

Gambling on the Internet is a success. So reports the state lottery bureau which has seen a 40 percent boost in players and a nifty $400,000 hike in net incoming revenue since the thing began.

With virtually no fanfare, the lottery czar launched the buy-lottery-tickets-from-the-comfort-of-your-favorite- P.C. last August. By January, 86,000 folks had signed up producing about two million smackers a week for state lottery coffers.

Fast forward to right now and there are 143,000 players generating $2.4 million a week with $2.1 million of that going back to the winners.

The bureau contends that a rash of irrational buying has not materialized, but Sen. Rick Jones is still not a fan.

"The state is making money on the people's gambling habits. You could literally lose your home from your couch. I don't think that's a good thing for the future of Michigan, but I understand they are doing everything they can to make money," which is what M. Scott Bowen is paid to do as the lottery director.

The state says it is sensitive to any abuses that might be out there, but it does nothing to discover who might be spending too much relying instead on the player to ask for help first.

There is one proviso aimed at curbing excesses. Each player can deposit $500 or less into their account. And if he or she wants to add more, they have to wait 48 hours and then the sky is the limit. In addition if your  winnings exceed the $500, you can continue to play with those winnings until they run out or you become a millionaire which ever  comes first.

Sen. Jones thinks the state should be more proactive.

"If the state could see online that someone was losing their house, they ought to step in a say we have a problem here, but the state doesn't care; it just wants to make more money."

The bureau spokesperson says the state will place a hold on an account, if the player makes the request and if the player needs counseling, the state will help there, too. But there are no state plans to take preventive action or as spokesperson Jeff Holyfield puts it, the state "is not Big Brother."
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