Massachusetts committee votes to let state lottery take its action online

The Massachusetts state Lottery is one step closer to taking its action online following a favorable committee vote.

On Wednesday, the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure approved an amended version of Sen. Jennifer Flanagan’s S-151, which would allow the Lottery to offer its products both online and via mobile apps.

Flanagan’s bill, which was introduced over a year ago, doesn’t specify what type of products might be on offer, only that the Massachusetts Lottery Commission “shall determine the types of lottery or lotteries to be conducted.”

Last December, the MLC issued a request for proposals from technology companies for an “iLottery system” that had the capacity to handle “digital versions of existing and new lottery games, including but not limited to social gaming and daily fantasy sports options.”

In April, the Lottery reported that it had received 20 responses to its request from traditional lottery suppliers like Scientific Games, IGT and Intralot, as well as PokerStars parent company Amaya Gaming and a host of lesser known DFS operators.

The Lottery’s 7,500 retail partners are less than impressed with the Lottery’s online plans, citing the traditional fears that their sales will suffer if players no longer have to show up in person to get their tickets.

However, as the Minnesota Lottery’s aborted online experiment demonstrated, online lottery sites attract a younger demographicthat’s largely uninterested in traditional draw tickets. On Wednesday, the Joint Committee cited the state’s need to “diversify our offerings to engage younger players” as a key factor in approving Flanagan’s bill.

The Committee offered several amendments to S-151, including setting daily, weekly and monthly online deposit limits, with players having the option of imposing even lower limits for themselves.

Players would also be barred from funding their online accounts directly from a bank account. Instead, players would have to visit an authorized Lottery retailer and purchase an “online game card” which can be loaded with funds for online play.

The current legislative session ends July 31, giving the Lottery a little more time in which to drum up support both among its retailers and in the legislature.

There are currently only four US states that offer online sales, with Georgia, Michigan and (now) Kentucky offering traditional draw as well as instant win games, while Illinois offers only online draw tickets.


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