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New York Gets Lottery Scratch-off Door-Delivery Service to Boost Ailing Sales

New York Lottery tickets can now be couriered legally to customers’ homes by third-party resellers, as the state gaming commission seeks ways to combat the dip in sales caused by the pandemic.

A man buys a lotto ticket at a New York City bodega. New York lottery tickets can now be delivered to state residents who place orders online. (Image: Justin Lane/EPA)

Manhattan-based Jackpocket began offering its service supplying lottery draw tickets, like Powerball and Mega Millions, in the state two weeks ago. But on Tuesday, the gaming commission approved the company to supply scratch-off tickets too, which can be ordered via a mobile app.

Jackpocket describes itself as a “Uber Eats or Instacart for the Lottery.” It is currently the only licensed lottery ticket reseller in New York. It was also approved by New Jersey’s Division of State Lottery back in 2019.

New York’s lottery revenue was notably down early in the pandemic, as many avoided visiting stores, although it has recovered slightly. Nevertheless, money for education programs is expected to be down 9 percent for the fiscal year that ends March 31, according to state budget documents.

Lottery Subscription System

In the case of scratch-offs, Jackpocket plans to launch a subscription system within the next few months that will allow players to buy bundles of tickets at a time.

Lottery-draw tickets are purchased by Jackpocket on behalf of customers, who receive scanned photos sent to their phones. Wins of up to $600 are placed directly into player accounts. For anything above that, players are invited to collect their wins in person.

The company takes an 8 percent cut of deposits. That’s more than the 6 percent traditional lottery retailers get, something the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) is hopping mad about.

Going Global

Lottery resellers have existed for many years, but in most states they operate in a legally gray area. And in some cases, they’re downright illegal.

Some exist as truly international businesses, allowing players from across the world to compete in US lotteries by proxy.

This is how, in April 2015, a man from Baghdad, Iraq was able to win a $6.4 million Oregon Lottery jackpot. The unnamed man purchased a ticket online via a site called theLotter.com, which had a proxy on the ground in Oregon to buy the physical ticket.

Astonished lottery officials and their lawyers could find nothing against it in their rules, since the ticket was bought at an Oregon convenience store. Caught unawares, some states have since updated their rules.

But the Multistate Lottery Association (MUSL), the non-profit lottery group behind Powerball draw, thinks the resellers might be onto something.

In December, MUSL said it was mulling international expansion by offering ticket sales to international customers. After all, as long as the money from ticket sales goes to the good causes MUSL supports in participating US states, where’s the harm?

It’s a controversial idea. But with Powerball sales also sagging, it may be the evolutionary next step.

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