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DULUTH - They've been around in paper form since the 90’s, but soon Minnesota lottery players will be able to scratch away from the comfort of their own home, right on the internet.
"Hopefully generate more entertainment and fun for our players, but also more revenue for the state,” Minnesota State Lottery executive director Ed Van Petten said.
"We understand that the state and different governments are looking for ways to generate different revenue,” Otterson Mental Health Services Inc. Clinical psychiatrist Dr. Troy Otterson said. “But I think the really important thing we have to do is make sure we're not creating bigger problems for our communities and for our societies."
The Minnesota State Lottery is expanding its options and will soon be selling scratch tickets online.
The plan is rubbing many gambling opponents and mental health experts the wrong way.
They fear it might fuel gambling addictions.
"It preys on people who are vulnerable, people with mental health issues, people with addictions of other types," said Otterson.
They're even more concerned about the potential impact on the younger generation.
"We have a problem, I think, on the horizon with our youngsters,” said Otterson. “They already can't manage this technology and now they're going to have the ability to go online and gamble with real money."
But Minnesota Lottery officials say they've done their research.
"There's no indication anywhere in the world that having these products available on the internet increases addiction at all,” said Van Petten. “There’s absolutely nothing that shows that."
Minnesota lottery officials say gamers will only be able to spend $50 a week and they have different ways of verifying whether customers are old enough to play.
"We have social security numbers and banking information on file and encrypted secure forms,” said Van Petten.
The online scratchers are still in testing mode, but the goal is to roll them out for players in the coming weeks.