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Agency Criticized for Urging Stores to Lobby for Lottery

16 November 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio –- An angry gambling opponent said it was "outrageous" that the Ohio Lottery Commission urged its 9,200 contract outlets to lobby two key lawmakers in favor of joining a multistate lottery.

"Even if it's legal, it's unethical to use a public agency to promote a political purpose," the Rev. John Edgar of the United Methodist Church said.

"They said they were getting a lot of calls in favor," Tom Smith of the Ohio Council of Churches said. "Now we know why."

The proposal to join a multistate lottery was included in a budget bill approved by the Ohio Senate on Thursday.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that lottery headquarters sent electronic messages to sales agents earlier this month urging them to call two members of the Senate Finance Committee, which was considering the bill.

Sales agents receive 5.5 percent of the revenue from ticket sales, plus bonuses for winning tickets.

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