ATLANTA -- A developer who hopes to bring a gambling complex to Gwinnett County would prefer a more secure destination for a new gaming venture than the one approved this week by the Georgia Lottery Corporation.
The approval Thursday by the lottery's Board of Directors will soon give players the chance to buy lottery tickets online, and Georgia could be the second state to pass such a measure.
The lottery's motive is to increase education funding for its HOPE Scholarship and pre-kindergarten programs, said lottery spokeswoman Kimberly Starks.
"We are encouraged that the Georgia Lottery is expanding revenue sources for the HOPE scholarship, but it seems to me that the people of Georgia would prefer a more secure environment rather than gaming being available in their living rooms," developer Dan O'Leary said.
The lottery's online model would not raise as much money as the proposed $1 billion project in Norcross, O'Leary said. It also wouldn't create jobs, the developer added, as his proposal includes 2,500 permanent jobs.
The online feature will sell tickets to its MegaMillions, PowerBall and Fantasy 5 games, and is expected to be offered later this year or early next year, Starks said.
Gov. Nathan Deal, who has opposed expanded gambling in the state, said he was fine with online lottery sales, and the initiative opens participation to residents who may not go to a store to purchase a ticket, the Associated Press reported.
The timing of this addition comes after the U.S. Justice Department last year reversed itself to make online lottery sales possible, saying the national Wire Act of 1961 applies only to sports betting. The act otherwise prohibits placing bets over telecommunications systems across state or national boundaries.
Illinois in March became the only state that sold tickets online, but several other states are working to offer them.
Starks said players would use an "iHope" debit card that would have access to an FDIC-insured bank account. The paperless option would add security and convenience, Starks said.
Lottery officials said controls are planned to make sure players are at least 18 and to assure tickets are bought only in Georgia. Those controls include mandatory registration, banking requirements that would match an applicant's name, address and Social Security number, and limits on how much account activity or playing time will be allowed.
"This is not a silver bullet, but the long-term potential to this is very large," Georgia Lottery Board Chairman Jimmy Braswell said. "It really is just a change in our existing business model to reach a new set of players" who are Internet-savvy, he said.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.