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Vicky Nolan

Lotteries Prosper on the Net

26 July 2000

Does every nation have a lottery? It certainly seems that way, especially since playing the lottery is one of the oldest and most popular forms of gambling in the world. Lottery games have gone through numerous adaptations over the years to stay in tune with the times, and selling tickets over the Internet is just the latest twist, albeit not widespread yet. Several lotteries sell tickets over the Internet in addition to more traditional outlets, while a few are completely Internet-based. Here's the scoop on a few lotteries around the world that are selling tickets on the Net.

The United Kingdom is home to one of the largest and best-known lotteries in the world, the UK National Lottery. Although it hasn't made it to the Internet yet, the two groups vying to run the National Lottery have both vowed to take it to the Internet. In the meantime, several smaller lotteries have sprung up on the Isles that are completely Internet based.

One such lottery is, operated by Littlewoods Leisure. The lottery uses numbers drawn each Saturday for the National Lottery, and players bet on which numbers are likely to be drawn. To play, punters log onto the Bet247 site and choose either the PrizeBuster 3 or the PrizeBuster 4 game. Each try is £1, with a maximum of 20 entries per lottery. After each Saturday's drawing, the prizes are paid through a direct deposit to the player's account. Prizes larger than £5000, however, are mailed out in a check to the player. Another version offers players a chance to bet on the Irish National Lottery, which has drawings twice weekly.

The site caters to more than players with a PC, according to Littlewoods chairman Roger Withers. "Customers will have access to Bet247 from their WAP mobile phones, from their landline web phones and their TVs and PCs, and we will soon announce a range of other access channels including some of the Premier League's leading football clubs and one of the U.K.'s leading service providers," he said during the site's launch.

Another U.K. lottery supports Premiership Football ( league teams, with British players able to specify which team benefits from their gamble. (Talk about a popularity contest!) Players select five of the 30 numbers offered, with each entry costing £1. Drawings are every Thursday evening, with the first drawing held on March 23, 2000. The winnings are deposited into the player's account, which is opened using a credit card.

One of the first lotteries to hit the Internet, of course, is PLUSLotto, based in Liechtenstein. The site began operations back in 1995, offering four lottery games, plus instant ticket games, and more. Mega Bucks, the biggest weekly draw, guarantees a payout of U$1.3 million.

They've taken interactive lotteries one more step by offering ticket sales over WAP-enabled phones. The company began with two games, "Mega Bucks" and "Alpine Snow", designed by, with more games to follow. WAP players need to establish an account with PLUSLotto's Internet site before playing. Payment can be handled using credit cards, debit cards and bank drafts.

"We're excited to be pioneering fun and entertaining games for WAP users," said Jon Fisher,'s business development manager. "This new technology means players can enjoy playing while on the move and raise money for such a worthwhile cause at the same time." Up to 25 percent of PLUSLotto's proceeds is donated to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Cyber Lotto, which is licensed in the commonwealth of Dominica, boasts players from 58 countries. Launched in 1998, the site has nearly 3000 registered players, according to a company spokesperson, who added, "We are getting about 5000 hits a day." Tickets cost $1 per ticket with a minimum purchase of five tickets, and drawings are held every Friday. Most players spend about $20 a week. The site is billed as "the highest paying lottery in history," and is promoting that players could potentially win "the first ever billion-dollar jackpot." Lump sum payments are paid out via wire transfer.

More commonly, players can win smaller amounts, such as matching four numbers to win $100 and $420 for five matching numbers. The jackpot, however, goes to whoever chooses six matching numbers out of a pool of 42 numbers.

The Jamaican Lottery Corporation (JLC), through a deal with eLottery Inc., will soon be selling tickets over the Internet. The lottery has been around since the early 1990's, while Internet ticket sales should begin August 23. Spokesman Kyle Keehan said, "We ran a promotional contest and currently have nearly 3000 registered members of our VIP club from about 40 different countries." The land-based version, meanwhile, already has over 600 land-based on-line retailers selling over 1.8 million plays per week or 508,000 weekly consumer visits.

JLC is one of the few lotteries outside of North America to be a member of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL), and is the first member of the organization to offer ticket sales over the Internet.

Sustaining and growing the lottery's customer base is necessary for any lottery to succeed, and one way to do that is by selling tickets over the Internet. In the United States, several states have been considering the Internet option. The Ohio Lottery Profit Review Commission (LPRC), for example, suggested selling state lottery tickets over the Internet as a way to perk up sales. The commission's draft report, in examining Internet ticket sales, estimated, "based on the estimated current and projected future volume of goods and services purchased over the Internet, a reasonable scenario would be a modest immediate impact on sales followed by more rapid growth for e-commerce sales over traditional marketing channels for the next several years. Some of the e-commerce lottery sales would come from spending diverted from current lottery sales and some would be truly new sales from new players." In other words, selling tickets over the Internet could be a boon to the lottery's bottom line.

Even the National Governor's Association has weighed in potential Internet ticket sales, criticizing language in H.R. 3125, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, that would prevent state lotteries from moving ticket sales onto the Internet. The bill's fate is still undecided, thus leaving many state lotteries unsure whether to proceed with Internet plans.

Outside the U.S., however, plenty of competitors have seen the advantage and plunged online. Internet lottery ticket sales are only in their infancy. In the near future, though, many nations are likely to head to the Net with great success, with or without American participation.

Lotteries Prosper on the Net is republished from
Vicky Nolan
Vicky Nolan