July 01, 2024 5:43 pm
• Last Updated: July 01, 2024 6:59 pm

After an apparently rocky test phase, the quasi-public Connecticut Lottery Corp. fully launched its online lottery Monday, enabling people in the state to play keno and purchase draw-game tickets on computers and cellphones.

Connecticut became the 11th state to offer online sales of individual lottery tickets.

Monday’s belated introduction of the so-called “iLottery” platform came after an unadvertised “soft” launch three weeks ago and was met by a Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling news release warning of potential problems associated with online lottery play.

“While lotteries are often seen as a harmless form of entertainment, they can pose significant risks for problem gambling,” the CCPG said. “Understanding these risks is crucial for promoting responsible play and providing support to those affected.”

While soft launches like the one involving iLottery usually last seven days, the state Department of Consumer Protection, which oversees gaming, wasn’t satisfied with the platform’s operation until the 20th day, a spokeswoman for the department, Kaitlyn Krasselt, said Monday.

There were issues with the platform’s system for verifying customers’ identification, according to Krasselt, who said it took a while for the lottery to sign up 5,000 iLottery participants, the number needed to evaluate the program.

Krasselt directed a reporter to the lottery for more information about the rollout.

Greg Smith, the lottery’s outgoing president and chief executive officer, was unavailable Monday but was quoted in a news release announcing the iLottery platform’s introduction.

“iLottery gives Connecticut residents a convenient and secure way to play lottery games, whether choosing the every-four-minutes speed of KENO, the huge, life-changing jackpots available through Powerball and Mega Millions, or the twice-a-day Play3 and Play4 (draw games),” Smith said in the statement. “In addition to our 2,800 retailer locations, iLottery allows you to pretty much play anytime and anywhere you are. Lottery scratch tickets are only available in retail so be sure to shop retail too.”

Within days of iLottery’s soft launch, the lottery corporation’s board of directors voted to appoint Frank Suarez, executive director of the Washington, D.C. Office of Lottery and Gaming, as Smith’s successor. Suarez will take over the Connecticut lottery on Aug. 1, with Smith remaining as special consultant during a transition period. He is expected to retire at the end of September.

Connecticut lawmakers approved online lottery sales in 2021 as part of the gaming-expansion bill that also authorized the casino-owning Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes and the lottery to provide in-person and online sports wagering. The tribes also were allowed to offer online casino gaming.

It has taken until now for the lottery to introduce online keno and draw-games ticket sales.

The lottery, which dealt with the departure of its original sports-betting vendor, also has been slow to open all of the 15 retail sportsbooks authorized by the 2021 law. The latest location to open, at the Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, which debuted in March, is the lottery’s 10th.

Also Monday, the lottery announced its drawings have been relocated from the FOX61/CW20 broadcast studios in Hartford to lottery headquarters in Wallingford, where they will be available for viewing exclusively on the web.

Due to the move, drawings will not be videotaped from July 1 through July 14, the lottery said. Starting around July 15, drawings at the new studio will occur at the regularly scheduled times under the oversight of the Department of Consumer Protection. They will be videotaped, but no longer televised.

Results will be available shortly thereafter on ctlottery.org.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2023, the lottery generated more than $1.7 billion in sales and contributed more than $404 million to the state’s general fund. Since its 1971 inception, it has contributed more than $11 billion.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

Gambling help

The Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling encourages those who need help with problem gambling to speak to a trained specialist at 1-888-789-7777 or by chat at www.ccpg.org.





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