New Hampshire Lottery has plunged further into the digital world by offering eight instant games online.
The games, with names like Jackpot Cash and Multiplier Max-Out and costing between 2 cents and $10 dollars, are similar to instant tickets sold in stores but do not have the same payouts, gameplay or graphics. They require players to create an online account before playing to help determine a person’s age – they must be 18 or older – and their location, because the games cannot be played outside New Hampshire.
The program, called iLottery, started quietly Sept. 4. Details are online at nhlottery.com/Play-iLottery.
To buy the online tickets, users must first deposit funds in an iLottery account from a debit card, PayPal account or with a bank transfer. Credit cards cannot be used.
New Hampshire Lottery said Thursday that “more than 4,200 players are part of the new platform.”
This does not mean that players have ended up with three times as much as they have spent, however. Some of those winnings have been plowed back into the lottery system and used to buy more tickets – in other words, far more than $100,000 has been spent on tickets to obtain the winnings. Figures were not available Thursday about how many tickets have been bought so far.
The minimum daily deposit in an iLottery Account is $500.
New Hampshire becomes the sixth state to offer online lottery sales since Illinois became the first to do so in 2012. The New Hampshire legislature approved the idea and Gov. Sununu signed it into law in the summer of 2017.
The state uses a platform called NeoPollard from a Michigan-based firm that also handles the online portion of state lotteries in Michigan and Virginia.
Online lottery sales are not always popular. Minnesota ended its program within a year after starting it in 2014 due to concerns, while in Pennsylvania casinos have sued to stop the sales, arguing that they illegally sell to minors.
Gambling opponents fear that the ease of online lotteries can worsen gambling addiction and adversely affect the poor. A study using Massachusetts census data published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston said that as household income declined, a larger share of that income was spent on lotteries.
Online lottery sales are particularly unpopular with stores, which receive a portion of winnings from physical tickets that they sell and who fear that online sales will bypass them. Lottery spokeswoman Maura McCann said this concern was overblown because online communication developed through iLottery would drive more sales.
“The iLottery platform gives us the ability to communicate with players, and provide them with offers that drive them back to traditional retailers,” McCann said.
Stores had similar concerns in July 2016 when New Hampshire became the first state to let people buy Powerball and Megabuck tickets with a smartphone app. Those sales were channeled through a Keene-based convenience chain because the multi-state games require a connection to a physical store. The New Hampshire-only instant games in iLottery do not have that requirement.
Experience from other states shows that online sales can increase total lottery revenue. George saw roughly $75 million more in online sales in 2015 than it did in 2012, just before it started online sales, while Michigan has attributed online sales to driving record revenues and record contributions to the state’s education system.