13th of December 2012 Author: Ava Jackuard
Massachusetts Treasurer Steven Grossman confirmed on Tuesday that the state lottery was interested in expanding into the online sector with more games. Therefore the state lawmakers are to be asked for approval to create and test the first wave of Internet lottery games in Massachusetts.
However, the testing will not be initiated until the state legislators had given the green light and that would take the issue into 2013.
Grossman said that legislators will be also asked to remove the existing barriers in state law that prevent the lottery from selling tickets and other games online or accepting credit cards as a form of payment.
But any plan to expand the lottery online must protect the 7,400 convenience stores, liquor stores and other stores selling physical lottery tickets - a backbone of the system, as Grossman characterised it.
The state lottery needs to work out revenue returns in the light of competitive threat of internet gambling as something real and imminent, so the state needs to be prepared to meet the challenge.
"Internet gaming is going to be a fact of life and is going to have an impact on lotteries all over the country in the relatively near future. We want to move as quickly as we can, as appropriately as we can," said Grossman revealing that he set up a special task force to explore the issue and that it is preparing to release its findings.
The Massachusetts state lottery is expected to collect net profits of about $927 million in the current year, with the proceeds returned to cities and towns in the form of local aid.
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Good for Massachusetts! It is a small step forward and any news in this online gambling arena is good news if it involves thoughtful and timely responses to what the consumers want and expect.
There are new sites catering to the lottery crowd and I expect there will continue to be more new sites coming online on a regular basis. For a US state to take the initiative and prepare to meet the challenges of the new technology needed to support a state lottery system is a great step forward towards allowing and regulating online gambling sites in general.
I am not sure if it is best that each individual state should have to hash out it's plans for online lotteries, but of course it's a good place to start. Each state will have it's own particular needs and issues to work out. But at some point, there needs to be a national effort to create a consistent and safe lottery online system.
With so much money at stake, it is obvious that there are many issues to be worked out. I don't think that the online lottery system will hurt the many retail sites that are currently supporting the sales of lottery tickets. Just like there are still land based casinos and bingo sites there will still be land based lottery ticket sales and these lottery outlets will probably not even notice a dent in their regular sales.
It will be interesting and a good lesson in politics to watch as Massachusetts addresses the issues of providing online lottery games. Knowing there is already a task force working on the backbone of the policies needed makes me think that they might actually get this project going. I am hopeful for the outcome to be favorable not only to Massachusetts and lottery sales, but also to internet gambling in general.
Yes, this will be a challenge and I know that they will meet it well and be proactive supporters of future online gambling initiatives. Other states should join in and get this ball rolling.
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