Minnesota Lottery Takes Step Forward With App Contract But Legal Framework Still In Dial-Up Age

Written By Derek Helling on December 14, 2021

A new Minnesota Lottery app will have all the modern bells and whistles. Well, all the bells and the whistles state law allows, anyway. The MN Lottery has granted a contract to one of North America’s foremost suppliers along these lines.

Although the technology exists, Minnesotans won’t be able to use the app to purchase plays for MN-specific or Multistate Lottery Association draw-style games. That’s all because, in the age of 5G, the law in the state hasn’t kept up.

A Minnesota Lottery app is on the way

Sometime in the near future, lottery players in MN will join those in many other states who can access dedicated apps on their Android and iOS devices. Earlier this month, the MN Lottery gave a contract to build the app to Pollard Banknote.

It will be the first truly mobile experience for players in MN. Currently, players can visit the lottery’s website on their phones using a mobile browser and engage with the features on the site.

Players in Minnesota are already familiar with Pollard Banknote products, whether they know it or not. The Canadian company is one of the premier providers of lottery solutions in the world.

For example, those scratch-off tickets you might have played over the years? Pollard Banknote designed and manufactured them for the MN Lottery. The two enterprises are now expanding their partnership to include a mobile application.

“The Minnesota Lottery is excited to partner with Pollard Banknote to bring a new mobile app to our players,” said Adam Prock, Executive Director, MN Lottery. “A new app will enable us to engage with players directly and provide them with convenient access to many facets of the Minnesota Lottery. We look forward to working with Pollard Banknote to bring the Minnesota Lottery app to the App Store and Google Play in order to drive excitement among our players and generate additional awareness and proceeds to the programs the Lottery supports throughout the state.”

When complete, the new app will have many functions for users. Those include:

  • Ability to scan tickets to see if they’re winners
  • Drawing results available in the app
  • Enrollment into the MN Lottery’s 2nd Chance program
  • Option to create and save digital play slips
  • Retailer locator
  • Social media integration
  • Updates on jackpot amounts

While this means MN will join the majority of states with lotteries to offer an app, it’s also part of the majority in another way. That might be a way in which many players could actually prefer to see a change.

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Online sales still a no-go for MN Lottery

In MN, online gambling including the sales of lottery tickets remains illegal. Perhaps this development in the lottery will help the state turn a corner in that regard, though.

MN Rep. Zack Stephenson has pledged to put forward a bill to legalize online gambling in at least one facet in 2022. Specifically, that would be sports betting. While Stephenson doesn’t mention any other forms of gaming, he has yet to write the bill.

States with online lotteries that offer mobile apps do offer mobile sales of certain games. In most of those places, that’s limited to draw-style games but in Illinois, for example, FastPlay instant win games are now available as well.

The coming Minnesota Lottery app should have the capability to handle the same transactions if appropriate state laws ever change. The MN Lottery would probably be interested in that amenity, too.

In other jurisdictions, online sales have created big increases in sales. In the fiscal year 2019-20 in Georgia, an uptick in 50% of the number of online sales lead to that lottery breaking its record for profits, coming out to $1.24 billion.

For now, the MN Lottery hopes that the app will provide a boost regardless of the lack of an in-app sales platform. Should the time ever come when it can legally do so, this app also opens the door for the MN Lottery to move into the 21st century.

Photo by f11photo / Associated Press
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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