he differences go back over a year, when state lawmakers felt that lottery director Ed Van Petten had not obtained their approval for his online initiatives, which were apparently given the green light by Governor Mark Dayton.
The row escalated to the introduction of a measure calling the director to heel and halting the promising venture. This was approved by legislators but vetoed by the governor early last year.
The veto exacerbated the situation despite Van Petten apologizing and assuring lawmakers that his agency had “learned our lesson,” and would work more closely with the Legislature going forward.
Gov. Dayton was less apologetic, opining that opposition to the lottery’s online venture was coming from people, “…who have a very lucrative piece of this gambling business and don’t want to give any of it up.”
And here we are, with a new measure that gives the state lottery 130 days to cease its online gaming operation, including “instant winner” tickets sold on the internet, at ATMs and gas pumps.
Having passed the Senate with such strong support, the bill now goes to the House, where it is expected to pass next week, presenting Gov. Dayton with another potential veto-fuelled confrontation with his legislators.
One pragmatic voice in the Senate – that of Sen. Sandy Pappas – appealed to legislators to take a more measured approach by giving the lottery three more years to wind up its online activity, bearing in mind that business partners and contractual obligations are involved, but it appears that scant notice was taken.
“What kind of message does this send to vendors who in good faith go into a contract with the state and then find the legislature throwing the contract out?” Pappas asked. “Are they going to hesitate to want to engage into a contract with the state?”