Massachusetts Officials Debate Legalization of Online Lottery Sales

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering the legalization of online lottery sales amid growing concerns that New Hampshire online lottery market could affect lottery businesses in its neighboring states. New Hampshire’s Legislature approved the online sale of lottery tickets this summer. Online lottery operations are expected to commence in the state in early 2018.

As reported by Massachusetts news outlet Lowell Sun, two bills for the legalization of online lottery sales have been presented to the state Legislature over the past several months. The first one was sponsored by former Sen. Jennifer Flanagan. The legislative piece remained stuck in a committee, but another bill on the matter was presented shortly after.

It was produced by the office of Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and it too called for the opening of the state’s online lottery market. Here it is also important to note that the move was supported by Michael Sweeney, who is currently heading the State Lottery Commission. Mr. Sweeney was appointed to the position back in 2015 and was tasked with discovering new revenue sources from within the state’s lottery industry and developing said industry in a manner that would attract the attention of a younger generation of players.

Lottery products in Massachusetts have historically been more popular among those aged 35-79 and less so among those under 24. While supporters of online lottery sales have suggested that the move would certainly draw members of that younger demographic group, others have contended that millennials do not have enough money to spend on lottery, no matter in what form as they are burdened with heavy student loans and other expenses.

Concerns over the Legalization of Online Lottery Sales

Backers of Massachusetts’ latest online lottery sales bill believe that the measure would prevent lottery revenue from leaving the state to neighboring New Hampshire. However, there have been concerns raised about lottery players becoming indebted as a result of the easier access to lottery tickets.

Michael Kushmerek, a Senate candidate, has pointed out that the state should deploy effective safeguards that would prevent vulnerable customers from becoming victims of gambling addiction. According to Mr. Kushmerek, Massachusetts should invest funds in educating lottery players about the risks online lottery ticket purchases pose.

According to the Senate candidate, the implementation of certain limitations to the number of lottery games a player can play via the Internet could be one such appropriate safeguard. This will not only protect customers, but will also protect retail lottery businesses from having their revenues cannibalized by the online lottery services.

Owners of retail lottery facilities have also voiced their opposition to the online lottery proposal, arguing that the move would reduce significantly traffic to their stores and would hit their already struggling businesses considerably.

Massachusetts saw a 2.7% drop in lottery sales in the 2017 financial year, as reported by the Lottery Commission. On the other hand, profits from this type of services registered a third consecutive year of growth to over $1 billion. Online lottery proponents believe that the move could bring additional proceeds.

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