Online Lottery Sales Under Consideration in Massachusetts

by Jim Hall

MassachusettsLawmakers in the state of Massachusetts are considering online lottery sale legalization.

It seems almost every week, we learn of new developments when it comes to the online gaming industry of the United States. From casino and poker gaming to lottery sales and daily fantasy sports, states across the US are considering their options. It was recently revealed that lawmakers in Massachusetts are considering legalizing online lottery sales with an emphasis on the competition from neighboring New Hampshire.

Competing with New Hampshire

For most gaming industries in the United States, changes are made when competition is spurred. In Massachusetts, lawmakers are worried that online lottery ticket sales in New Hampshire could hurt their lottery business. During this past summer, lawmakers in New Hampshire approved online lottery ticket sales within their state. Online sales should begin early next year. With ease of sales so prevalent, lawmakers are worried players will go across state lines to log online for their tickets instead of visiting Massachusetts retailers.

Two Bills Introduced

The Lowell Sun is reporting that two bills are currently being considered for legalizing online lottery ticket sales. Within the past few months, Legislature has been presented these bills. The first bill is sponsored by former Senator Jennifer Flanagan. The bill was stuck in a committee once introduced but soon after, another bill on the subject was presented.

The second bill was introduced by state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg. Similar in nature to the first bill, this measure called for the state to introduce online lottery ticket sales. Michael Sweeney showed support for this measure, the head of the State Lottery Commission. Sweeney was put at the helm of the Commission in 2015 and was given the job of finding new revenue sources for the industry. Online lottery ticket sales would certainly mean new revenues.

The Massachusetts lottery is popular in the state, with players between the ages of 35 to 79 enjoying the games most often. The games are less popular for the demographic under the age of 24. However, offering online lottery ticket sales would most likely spur the younger audience to purchase tickets. Most people like the option of online sales as they conduct the majority of their business online.

Concerns Regarding Online Ticket Sales

Proponents of online lottery ticket sales point out that Massachusetts would be able to compete with neighboring state New Hampshire. However, opponents are worried that players will go into debt with tickets being so easy to purchase. Safeguards have been suggested for online ticket sales that will prevent consumers who are vulnerable from purchasing tickets too often and become addicts. Some suggest that lottery players be educated on the risks that purchasing online tickets can pose.

Senate candidate, Michael Kushmerek, has suggested that the lottery limit the number of games a player can enjoy via the internet as a safety measure. Kushmerek believes this would protect consumers but also protect the retail lottery businesses.

Businesses that offer lottery ticket sales are also opposed to online lottery gaming. They feel that with online sales, their traffic would be reduced in stores and struggling businesses would suffer further.

In the state, lottery sales are down just over 2% for the 2017 financial year. However, profits are up for a third year in a row. It is believed that with online ticket sales, revenues will only increase. It will be interesting to see if the legislation proposed will move forward and if Massachusetts will become the next state to offer online ticket sales. Much still has to done in order to see such gaming options offered in the state.