Online Lottery Not Expected in Massachusetts Despite Demand

by Kyle Miller

MassachusettsWhile the state lottery and players would love to see Massachusetts to offer online lottery ticket sales, it does not seem the option will be offered anytime soon.

The state of Massachusetts has yet to legalize online lottery gaming and despite missing out on the opportunity, the head of the state lottery will continue to try and fight for the option. Michael Sweeney, the Executive Director of the Lottery, will be making his case with lawmakers to try and gain approval to offer ticket sales via the internet.

Online Lottery Removed From Legislation

Late last week an economic development package was sent to the desk of Governor Charlie Baker but unfortunately the provision that would have allowed online lottery sales had been dropped. Massachusetts will have to wait to offer online product sales like other states within the US. Sweeney has been pushing for some time now to get approval from lawmakers to be able to move forward with online efforts for the lottery.

Profits from the state lottery have been flat for some time now, with towns and cities suffering due to low sales. The officials of the lottery feel that online sales would boost revenues and be the transition the lottery needs to be able to stay a strong competitor in the overall gaming industry.

Opposition to Online Lottery Sales

Convenience store owners rely on the lottery to bring in customers have been strongly opposed to online sales. Store owners who offer lottery ticket sales feel that their sales will suffer even more if online options are available. The opposed have also brought up concerns of the safeguards for gaming as well as young people having access to online lottery ticket sales. Of course safeguards would be put in place and age restrictions, but this still does not appease those who are opposed to online sales.

Proponents argue that the online lottery is the best scenario for the state to earn revenues instead of choosing to raise taxes. Sweeney stated that the issue of the online lottery is a major public policy and business decision that the Commonwealth will need to make. The decision has a great deal of complexities and these may not be as obvious at first glance. Sweeney was not surprised that the online lottery portion was removed from legislation and felt that lawmakers were able to get done as much as they could and he is sure that at some point in the future the subject will be revisited.

Second Time Lottery Was Considered This Session

The piece included in the economic development bill considering the online lottery was the second time the subject was included in legislation this session. However, legislators decided to decline the authorization of exploration of the online lottery. Senator Jennifer Flanagan had filed a budget amendment that was withdrawn, which is a common sign that a measure does not have sufficient support.

It does not appear that the bill will be redrafted this session. Treasurer Deborah Goldberg was disappointed in the change as the option failed to move forward. Sweeney has stated for many months that the online lottery must move online to be able to continue to be successful as well as return much-needed revenues to the towns and cities of the state.

According to Sweeney, it has been more than 25 years since the lottery has offered what he considers a new and innovative game. At the time, this was the game of keno. Everything that has been changed since then has been a reissuance of an existing concept, mostly involving instant tickets. Sweeney pointed out that if you look at any business model that is in the United States, it involves the internet as a critical component.

For now, the online lottery will not be taking place within the state. Only time will tell if the option will be considered once again.