Beginning this week, Georgians have the option to buy lottery tickets online. The AJC ran a story on the new feature this morning, complaining that "there was no information about … online sales on galottery.com Sunday." The headline: "Online lottery off to slow start in Georgia."
I imagine so. Strictly for journalistic purposes (ahem), Clyde went to galottery.com to experience the sign-up process first-hand. That process turns out to be so secretive and painful, it seems almost deliberately designed to discourage participation.
Have a look at the lottery's home page this morning:
See any mention of online gaming options? Nope. It's not a featured headline. It's not promoted in the big, fat scrolling Flash-based slideshow. The program isn't referenced by a single obvious link. To sign up, visitors must:
1) psychically intuit that joining the "Players Club" (which, positioned as a way to get "exclusive access to special offers and promotions" sounds like a ticket to Spamville) is the first step;
2) read the fine print, which identifies that Players Club members can create an an account, one benefit of which is a debit card called the iHope card (as in "iHope you can find out how to sign up," I suppose), and;
3) figure out that you can then use your iHope debit card to purchase lottery tickets online.
Of course, nothing on the home page explains any of this. The critical iHope account isn't even referenced there as of 7:07 a.m. this morning.
The AJC headline shouldn't be "Online lottery off to slow start." It should be "Why is Georgia's online lottery option so difficult to find?"
Update: When we completed the registration process, we were told our online ticketing account would be approved in three to five business days (because they've tied the creation of your account to an approval process for the iHope online debit card). So if you're hoping to buy tickets online for this Wednesday's record-breaking drawing … today is very likely not your lucky day. That said: if you already have a debit card, you can associate it with your account and start buying tickets immediately.
Update: Even after jumping through the appropriate hoops, we got a message telling us: "We're sorry, visitors on a mobile cellular network or outside the state of Georgia cannot sign up for this program." We got that message despite the fact we were signing up via a PC connected to our Midtown Atlanta home's hardwired Internet connection.
Has *anyone* signed up for this program? Is it even possible?