Massachusetts Lawmakers Consider Legalization of Online Lottery Offering

A bill that calls for the provision of online lottery products to be authorized within Massachusetts’ borders was given a positive review by the state Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure after certain amendments had been introduced to the proposal.

Under S 151, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, online lottery should be authorized to be conducted over the Internet and through mobile applications.

Commenting on the proposed legislation, Sen. Barbara L’Italien said that online lottery products are more likely to be found appealing by millennials, who are to gradually become the main demographic of gambling customers. Being technology-savvy they are more likely to purchase lottery tickets online rather than in brick-and-mortar stores.

Sen. L’Italien further noted that Massachusetts relies heavily on revenue from lotteries, as a portion of it is contributed to various important causes. According to the lawmaker, diversifying lottery offerings and engaging young players would help the state maintain the high lottery revenue it is accustomed to.

Quite understandably, the online lottery proposal was not welcomed by lottery retailers as this would impact their business in quite a negative manner. However, legislators seems to be ready to further expand the state’s gambling industry in a bid to find new revenue streams.

As mentioned above, Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure members gave the proposed online lottery bill positive feedback. They also attached 8 conditions on the way online lottery operations should be conducted if eventually approved by the state Legislature.

In the first place, committee members demanded that winnings of between $200 and $599 should be claimed at a Lottery retailer by the winners themselves. As for winnings of over $600, these will have to be claimed at the Lottery office.

In addition, lottery players would not be allowed to fund their online accounts at lottery websites directly from their bank accounts. They will have to visit authorized lottery retailers, buy a special “online game card,” and load it in order to be able to play online.

Sen. Flanagan’s bill does not specifically list the products that may be offered online. Under the proposal, it would be up to the Massachusetts Lottery Commission to decide what products would be available to purchase.

Late last year, the commission issued a request for proposals from lottery technology providers that would be interested in developing online lottery games for Massachusetts. Earlier this year, commissioners announced that 20 responses were submitted to the request, with some of those coming from popular suppliers such as IGT, Scientific Games, and INTRALOT.

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