A new mobile app may soon enable Ohio customers to play the lottery from their mobile phones, avoiding long queues at local retailers. Developers of the Jackpocket app are targeting a 2019 launch in the state. The app is primarily focused on the under-35 crowd.
How The Lottery App Works
In late June, the mobile lottery app was launched in the state of Minnesota. After two weeks, a young student from Concordia University won $1 million playing Powerball. Brandon Stevenson used his promotional credits to purchase his winning ticket and got rich using the mobile lottery app. That’s a great advertisement for Jackpocket’s app as the company looks to penetrate the state of Ohio in early 2019.
To start playing on the mobile app, the player needs to first load real money to their online account and be prepared to pay out a 7 percent fee. The app will use geo-location technology and once verified, the player can use the app to go ahead and purchase lottery tickets via the mobile app. An option is available for automatic purchases once the jackpot hits a particular amount. Scratch-off tickets are not available for purchase via the mobile app and a $100 per day limit is in place.
To buy a ticket, the player must first place an order with Jackpocket. The app looks for a nearby retailer from which a physical ticket will be bought. As confirmation, Jackpocket will then send a scanned image of the ticket to the player.
Winnings of less than $600 are transferred automatically to the player’s account. That money can then be transferred to the player’s personal bank account. However, for prizes over $600, a ticket will be provided to the player to personally cash out. This is in compliance with existing tax laws in the state of Ohio.
Jackpocket Functions as Third Party
The mobile app technically works as a third-party courier service, buying the ticket from an actual retailer. Online gambling is illegal in Ohio but this mobile lottery service would not violate any gambling laws as it falls within the boundaries of what is actually permitted in the state.
Minnesota also does not allow legalized online gambling and they had no problem with allowing the Jackpocket mobile lottery app from functioning. Adam Prock, spokesman for the Minnesota State Lottery, said since Jackpoket only acted as a courier and did not offer any mobile gambling directly, there were not laws broken.
However, not everyone is willing to accept such a simple explanation. Opponents of online gambling have argued that the app’s operations constitute unauthorized online gambling and state authorities are allowing the app to get away with it. It is very likely that the Jackpocket app will also face opposition in Ohio once they get their operations up and running in 2019.
Jackpocket App Eyeing Expansion
The app started operating in New Hampshire in late 2017, and this year added Minnesota to their portfolio. Jackpocket CEO Peter Sullivan confirmed that the company is looking to expand its reach with plans to also launch in New York and New Jersey in the coming months.
Meanwhile in Ohio, the local lottery has not considered any proposal from Jackpocket or from anyone else yet, though a number of vendors have already come forward with a pitch to lottery officials. Spokeswoman Danielle Frizzi-Babb said they are not in a position to answer legal questions at the moment as there are no official plans in place.
Asked for his view on the type of arrangement adopted by Jackpocket, spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s office Dan Tierney said the practice is not prohibited under Ohio law. Tierney refused to elaborate on the matter as the Attorney General’s office serves as the lottery’s legal representative.
Sullivan said he intends to submit a proposal to the administration of the new governor who is due to take office in January. The governor has the authority to appoint the Ohio Lottery director as well as members of the lottery commission. Confident of Jackpocket’s expansion to Ohio, Sullivan said the process will be the same with Minnesota where orders are completed by making an actual ticket purchase at a licenced retailer.
A spokeswoman for the company however said the app won’t enter the Ohio market in the absence of formal arrangements and legal understanding.

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