The Illinois Lottery announced shortly after Christmas that it plans to start selling lottery tickets online in the coming spring.

Up until now online sales were considered illegal. However, the U.S. Justice Department has issued a ruling allowing states to authorize certain forms of internet gambling.

The big question is will Arkansas be next?

Arkansas’ lottery has rolled out more lottery games in a shorter length of time than any state lottery I know of. The end result, so far, has been a bureaucratic nightmare at the Lottery Commission, paltry allocations for college scholarships, and countless Arkansans left holding losing lottery tickets they bought with their hard-earned money.

If online sales come to Arkansas, it can only spell more trouble. Studies show that people, on average, spend 12% – 18% more when purchasing items with a credit card than with cash. That, coupled with the convenience of online shopping and the addictive nature of the lottery, means that we could see many, many more lives ruined by gambling.

When the lottery was enacted in 2009, the issue of Internet sales came up. Legislators were assured that such sales were illegal under federal law. Now that the law seems to have changed, Arkansas’ lawmakers should take another look at our statutes. If our laws leave an opening for online sales, legislators should try to close that loophole before the Lottery does any more damage in Arkansas.