Massachusetts Considering Legalization of Online Lottery Ticket Sales
Could Massachusetts become the next state to take steps toward the legalization of online gambling? Local lawmakers are reportedly considering the legalization of online lottery sales due to concerns that neighboring New Hampshire’s expanding lottery market could affect business in Massachusetts.
New Hampshire’s state Legislature recently approved the online sale of lottery tickets over the summer, with sales expected to begin sometime in early 2018.
Local Massachusetts news outlet Lowell Sun reported that two bills regarding legalizing online lottery sales have been introduced to the state’s Legislature over the past few months. Former Senator Jennifer Flanagan sponsored the first bill, which got stuck in a committee. A second bill was introduced shortly thereafter.
Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg sponsored the second bill, which called for the state to open an online lottery market. The bill was subsequently supported by Michael Sweeney, who is in charge of the Massachusetts Lottery Commission. Sweeney was appointed in 2015, and it was his job to find new revenue sources from within the state’s lottery industry. Sweeney was also tasked with developing the lottery industry in a way to attract a more youthful group of players.
The Massachusetts lottery has historically been more attractive to older people between the ages of 35 and 79. Those that support online lottery ticket sales absolutely believe that the move would attract those aged 24 and younger. However, others say that people in that age bracket don’t have enough money to regularly spend on lottery tickets thanks to other financial burdens like student loan payments.
Supporters of the legalization of online lottery ticket sales believe that it would keep revenue from leaving Massachusetts for New Hampshire. Of course, there are also concerns that players may go into debt as a result of the easier, more convenient access to lottery tickets.
Senate candidate Michael Kushmerek believes the state of Massachusetts should put safeguards in place that would prevent customers from becoming gambling addicts. Kushmerek believes the state should invest money in order to educate lottery players of the risks and dangers of entering the online lottery ticket marketplace.
Something like limiting the number of tickets one person is allowed to purchase at a time may help to limit the potential for addiction to develop. This would theoretically work to protect customers, but it would also help keep land-based lottery businesses from having their own revenue taken by the online version of the industry.
Even so, retail operators have complained that the addition of an internet component would significantly hinder foot traffic into their stores, which could potentially kill an industry that is already currently mired in financial struggles.
The state of Massachusetts saw an overall drop in lottery sales in the 2017 financial year of 2.7 percent. However, profits from said services did pick up a third straight year showing growth of at least $1 billion. Proponents of the new online measure say that legalization would bring even more growth.
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