Massachusetts could soon become the fifth American state to offer lottery products online or via mobile apps after an influential government committee approved proposed legislation from Democratic State Senator Jennifer Flanagan.
The states of Georgia, Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky already offer players the chance to enjoy traditional draw games online while the Massachusetts Lottery has long argued that a similar move was essential for it to maintain revenues and continue returning hundreds of millions of dollars to local communities.
Wednesday saw the Joint Committee On Consumer Protection And Professional Licensure issue an approval on Flanagan’s proposed legislation, which is known as S-151. Introduced over a year ago, the measure, if passed, would allow the Massachusetts Lottery to “conduct a state lottery including a lottery or lotteries conducted online, over the Internet or through the use of mobile applications”.
“Since millennials and other younger players have grown up with access to technology at their fingertips, they are less likely to purchase lottery tickets in the traditional marketplace and we need to find an alternative way to engage them,” read a statement from Massachusetts State Senator Barbara L’Italien, Co-Chair for the Joint Committee On Consumer Protection And Professional Licensure. “Massachusetts is highly reliant on lottery revenues for local aid and in order to sustain the high revenues to which we are accustomed we need to diversify our offerings to engage younger players and continue to have one of the strongest lotteries in the state.”
In giving its support, the bi-partisan group consisting of members of the Massachusetts Senate and House Of Representatives attached a series of amendments including that the Massachusetts Lottery must institute systems to verify that all online players are at least 18 years of age and located within the state. Another alteration would require winners of any cash prize between $200 and $599 to claim their money in person at a bricks-and-mortar retailer while amounts over $600 would have to be collected from the head office of the Massachusetts Lottery.
As part of the proposed amendments, the Massachusetts Lottery would also be able to withhold payouts to winners with outstanding state debts including child or spousal support payments.
The official group’s amended version of the legislation additionally calls for the lottery to set maximum daily, weekly and monthly deposit limits plus give customers the ability to withdraw winnings at any time and block direct deposits from a bank account.
The Joint Committee On Consumer Protection And Professional Licensure has moreover asked that the online purchase of lottery tickets using credit and debit cards be forbidden while the state’s 7,500 land-based retailers would be able to offer an “online game card” allowing customers to add funds to their online account.
Flanagan’s proposed legislation with its amendments must now make it through votes in the Massachusetts Senate and House Of Representatives before being signed by Republican governor Charlie Baker ahead of the end of the current legislative session on July 31.