Massachusetts Treasurer Steve Grossman is pursuing legislation that would allow the state lottery to test online lottery ticket sales. If the law passes, the state lottery could begin testing online gambling later this year.
Only a handful of states have filed legislation to bring lottery games to home computers, but Grossman says he expects online gambling to expand rapidly in the coming years, and he wants Massachusetts to stay on the cutting edge. Grossman says he hopes to test a system that would allow consumers to buy gift card-like credit in convenience stores to use in online lottery games.
“What we want to do is avoid people going online, using their Visa card, their MasterCard, their American Express card, maxing it out, going up to the limit without any controls whatsoever.”
Grossman says that system would maintain foot traffic to convenience stores that rely on lottery and scratch ticket sales. But convenience store advocates argue that online gambling would pose challenges to lottery retailers. Stephen Ryan is executive director of the New England Convenience Store Association. He says stores would lose business if consumers did not have to buy lottery tickets or online lottery credit in person.
“It’s not just the sale of lottery tickets themselves, it’s the ancillary products, the things people come in to buy when they’re purchasing a lottery ticket, and those items are really the things that help keep them in business and employing people here in Massachusetts.”
Ryan says he’s also concerned about how an online lottery would affect the state’s future casino industry. Online lottery legislation has been introduced to the state senate, and Grossman says he expects it to be vigorously debated.