SC lawmaker weighs the odds of online lottery - FOX Carolina 21

SC lawmaker weighs the odds of online lottery

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A South Carolina Education Lottery sign outside of an Upstate store where lottery tickets are sold. (File/FOX Carolina) A South Carolina Education Lottery sign outside of an Upstate store where lottery tickets are sold. (File/FOX Carolina)

Customers who want to buy lottery tickets can find them at grocery and convenience stores, and now one lawmaker believes customers should also be able to buy them online.

However, some store owners say it could hurt their business. Simon Sfeir is the owner of Simon's Liquors off West Washington Street in Greenville. Recently, a customer won $200,000 and he received a commission off the winning ticket.

"If it happens every week it would be nice," Sfeir said.

He said customers not only buy tickets, but they also buy liquor and other items. But, on Thursday, Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Dst. 110 out of Charleston County, said lawmakers should consider online lottery sales.

"I would like to sell as much as I can every day here, it's better for income of the store," Sfeir said.

Limehouse said the idea was talked about during a budget hearing.

"It will increase lottery sales for education. People register to vote online, so we can regulate the lottery too. If you're not old enough to play, you will have to prove who you are or you don't get the winnings," Limehouse said.

Tim Madden is the chairman of the South Carolina Lottery Commission and said the commission is reviewing the idea.

"We as a commission have not taken a position one way or the other on that. The General Assembly makes those laws. They tell us the way they think the public policy ought to be administered," Madden said.

He said right now lottery sales have increased during in the past 10 years.

"We announced that $2.6 billion had been contributed directly to the education conference in the state," Madden said.

However, if online sales were to happen, lawmakers would have to introduce a bill and vote on it. And business owners like Sfeir said the odds are store owners will win that fight.

"I don't think it will pass," Sfeir said.

Commission members said since lottery sales started 10 years ago, nearly $3 billion from lottery sales have gone to education. Right now, Georgia and Illinois participate in online lotteries.

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