Lawmakers Want To Close Texas Lottery Loophole

Written By TJ McBride on May 24, 2023

A bill in the Texas Legislature looks to prohibit the sale of lottery games by phone or online.

Texas state Sen. Bob Hall authored Senate Bill 1820. There are no sponsors, but the bill is moving through the Legislature.

Hall believes lottery sales should occur face-to-face at one of the legal and regulated Texas Lottery retail locations. That would allow the state to regulate and oversee all lottery sales.

Some retailers are exploiting a loophole that has pushed legislators to consider Hall’s proposed solution.

Why are lawmakers taking action against online lottery sales in Texas?

One of the biggest reasons for state lawmakers to prohibit online sales of lottery games is to bring sales back under state oversight to be appropriately regulated and legal.

A recent incident was a perfect example of the worries Texas legislators have about selling Texas Lottery tickets.

Hooked on MT in Colleyville sold a winning lottery ticket for the Lotto Texas draw game worth $95 million in April. Hooked on MT specializes in fishing in the state of Montana.

On the outside, it looks like nothing more than a shop for fishing supplies, but Hooked on MT is also a retail lottery store called Lottery Now. It sold the most lottery tickets in Texas for the Lotto Texas drawing at $11 million.

In that $11 million haystack of Texas Lottery tickets, one of them was the $95 million jackpot winner.

A small fishing store sells $11 million in Texas lottery tickets

According to the Dallas Morning News, most of those sales were by a purchasing group that used Hooked on MT because it is one of the retailers that can sell large volumes of lottery tickets.

These purchasing groups have begun to crop up more often, especially whenever there is a large jackpot. In Texas, many of these purchasing groups are using lottery courier services. That poses a problem in the eyes of legislators.

While Lottery Now is licensed by the state lottery, its courier service, Mido Lotto, is not. That is the loophole legislators want to close with SB1820.

Historically, lottery tickets from the Texas Lottery had to be purchased over the counter. In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic raging, the lottery altered those rules without legislative approval and began selling tickets online and over the phone. That opened the door to lottery courier services selling lottery tickets via a licensed lottery retailer.

The policy change allowed to begin making agreements with the International Gaming Alliance to provide Texas Lottery tickets to buyers in the Dominican Republic, a far cry from the over-the-counter purchasing legislators envisioned.

SB 1820 awaits action in Texas House

The Texas Senate passed SB1820, 29-2, on April 12 after its third reading and sent to the Texas House. After its first reading in the House, it was sent to the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee. It has sat for more than a month.

Photo by PlayTexas
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TJ McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver, Colorado who covers the Denver Nuggets as a beat writer and the current gaming landscape in Texas. His byline can be found across many websites such as ESPN, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report, and others.

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