$1 million lottery winner used controversial Jackpocket app to buy ticket

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The latest $1 million lottery winner in Minnesota bought his ticket using a controversial app, which allows the user to skip the visit to the store and buy the ticket virtually.

“This is by far the biggest winner we’ve ever had,” said Peter Sullivan, the CEO of the lottery app Jackpocket.

Brandon Stevenson of St. Paul won the Powerball Wednesday night, making him the first person in Minnesota to cash in on a controversial new app. 

Jackpocket launched in Minnesota about two weeks ago. It is only the second state where it’s available.

“What Jackpocket does as a service is we buy that ticket on the user’s behalf,” said Sullivan.

Jackpocket is essentially the Uber of gambling.

“What users are doing, they’re ordering a ticket and paying for a service where a physical person is going into a brick and mortar and purchasing an actual ticket,” said Sullivan.

While the Minnesota Lottery denies any connection to Jackpocket, they have met with the company and believe what they are doing is legal.

“They operate under Minnesota statutes to make these purchases for their customers,” said Adam Prock, the director of communications for the Minnesota Lottery. “For the lottery, this is no different than any other winner.”

The statute allows groups of people to buy tickets for others, but Citizens Against Expanded Gambling say the Legislature never intended the law to benefit a company like Jackpocket.

“You’ve got an app run by a third party that literally allows people to sit on their couch and gamble,” said executive director Jake Grassel. “That’s online gambling.”

With online gambling currently illegal in Minnesota, the opposition plans to act swiftly to outlaw this.

Grassel said they’ve received several phone calls from legislators expressing concern. State Representative Greg Davids (R-Preston) is one of them.

In a letter to director of the Minnesota Lottery Robert Doty on July 3, Davids said, “The Minnesota Lottery’s continued refusal to work within the confines of state law is a source of ongoing frustration for state lawmakers.”

Davids went on to decry the Memoranda of Understanding the lottery signed with Jackpocket saying, “Given the legal uncertainty and risk posed to our state, I urge the Minnesota Lottery to immediately rescind the MoUs and work with the Alcohol Gambling and Enforcement Division to suspend operation of reseller services until these issues can be resolved.”