Over the past few months, two bills have been introduced in Massachusetts that are pitching for the introduction of online lottery sales. The urgency of the matter seems to lie in the fact that New Hampshire recently allowed the sale of lottery tickets online, and Massachusetts needs to keep up with the competition.
The first bill to be presented in the Bay State was introduced by Senator Jennifer Flannagan. Although she has since left her position, it has been reported that four out of the five candidates who are in line to replace her are also supporters of online lottery sales, and would do their bit to pull it out of committee and advance it in the legal channels.
One of the candidates, the current Leominster City Councilor Claire Freda, expressed her concerns above New Hampshire moving towards an online lottery, thus causing Massachusetts to “lose its competitive edge.”
“Our cities and town rely on this money; it’s a huge piece of municipal aid,” Freda is quoted as saying in the Lowell Sun. “Anything New Hampshire does certainly affects our area more than others because of our proximity to the border.”
The second bill was recently introduced by the State Treasurer, Deborah Goldberg. Her bill seems to have more clout since it has the support of Michael Sweeney, the head of the State Lottery Commission. In the past year, lottery sales in the state have dropped 2.5%, and the Massachusetts Lottery is keen to do what it can to increase these numbers as soon as possible.
“We need to be where the consumers are, and increasingly, the consumers are online and mobile,” said Michael Sweeney.
Sweeney pointed to Michigan as an example of a successful move to online lottery sales.
‘They started to surpass $8 million a week in sales in 2016,” he said.
Efforts to block Massachusetts’ move to online lottery sales comes from a number of sectors, including small store owners who fear that their livelihood would be threatened.
“A lot of store owners, what they do is sell the other products, like milk and bread and your other staples at a reasonable cost, but they really depend on the money the lottery gives them,” Luis Blanco, owner Quijote Market in Boston’s South End told Boston 25 News.