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Flanagan’s new proposal seeks to allow the state lottery to, “conduct a state lottery, including a lottery conducted online, over the internet or through the use of mobile applications.”
Last year, Flanagan’s online lottery bill managed to make a late push as the legislature was wrapping up its session in July. The bill was passed by the Senate, but the House chose not to act, leaving the fate of online lottery to be decided in 2017.
Based on 2016’s progress, and the early start proponents are getting in 2017, online lottery legalization in Massachusetts is more probable than not this year.
Under Flanagan’s proposal, SD 6, the games that could be offered online would be left up to the Massachusetts Lottery Commission. This leaves the door open for daily games, scratch tickets, and even more innovative offerings designed to appeal to a younger demographic.
Flanagan’s bill creates baseline regulations governing online sales.
For full regulations, see list at bottom of article.
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Flanagan is one of two key political figures in the state spearheading efforts to bring Massachusetts’s lottery online, the other being State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, whose office oversees the Massachusetts lottery.
Goldberg has stated her intentions to send her own online lottery proposal to the legislature.
Goldberg is a recent convert to the idea of selling lottery tickets online, and sees the move as a way to modernize and strengthen the state lottery.
“I had to come around to this thinking because I myself hadn’t thought about online lottery games, but I saw the way millennials are operating is really online,” Goldberg said in an interview with local press.
“This past Christmas shopping season, Cyber Monday outperformed Black Friday. We really want to be prepared to have a more modern, forward-thinking product.”
Opposition to online lottery sales will come from two corners:
To satisfy the latter group, the bill ties online lottery to brick & mortar retailers by limiting deposit methods to verified bank accounts or debit cards, and pre-paid gift cards that can be purchased at current lottery retailers.
Last year’s legislation also required winners to visit a brick & mortar lottery retailer to cash in winning tickets.
Neither of these will likely win the support of the Association For Convenience & Fuel Retailing (NACS), which represents convenience stores, and has become a very vocal critic of online gambling of any kind.
Nothing will convince anti-gambling groups that this is a good idea. So it will be imperative for supporters to carefully refute their often bombastic claims, and quell any concerns lawmakers might have.
As Goldberg told the local press, when it comes to implementing responsible gaming protocols, online trumps land-based:
“What experts tell us is it is much easier to track and put in programs to control compulsive gaming online,” Goldberg said. “When you’re operating from an IP address or phone, you can develop programs to identify and restrict a person’s own gambling.”
Flanagan also pushed back against critics who feel the measure is nothing more than a cash-grab by the state that would put vulnerable groups at risk.
“What I’m trying to do is keep up with technology,” Flanagan said in response to accusations she’s preying on the poor by authorizing online lottery sales. “The reality is people do everything on their phones. And the truth of the matter is people have a different way of going about business now.
“We have a generation of people who don’t go into the gas station and pay with cash.”
(i) require age verification measures to be reasonably designed to block access to and prevent sales of lottery tickets, games or shares online, over the internet or through the use of a mobile application to persons under the age of 18;
(ii) limit sales of lottery tickets, games or shares online, over the internet or through the use of mobile applications to transactions initiated and received or otherwise made within the commonwealth;
(iii) allow any player to voluntarily prohibit or otherwise exclude themselves from purchasing a lottery ticket, game or share online, over the internet or through the use of a mobile application;
(iv) establish maximum limits for account deposits and transactions of lottery tickets, games or shares conducted online, over the internet or through the use of a mobile application and allow players to reduce their own deposit or transaction limit at any time;
(v) limit any electronic deposits made in an online lottery account to the use of a verified bank account, prepaid gift card or debit card; provided, however, that the commission shall not accept credit card payments or deposits for the purchase of any ticket, game or share online, over the internet or through the use of a mobile application;
(vi) clarify that money in an online lottery account belongs solely to the owner of the account and may be withdrawn by the owner at any time; and
(vii) require the commission to implement promotional activities to encourage the purchase of lottery tickets, games or shares through licensed sales agents including, but not limited to, the sale of prepaid gift cards for online transactions through licensed sales agents.