Massachusetts will make another run at approving online lottery products in 2017, according to the state treasurer.
On Wednesday, Massachusetts treasurer Deborah Goldberg (pictured) told the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce that she will renew her push for legislation that will allow the Massachusetts Lottery to join its counterparts in Michigan, Georgia, Kentucky and Illinois in offering web and mobile lottery products.
The Massachusetts Senate gave online lottery sales the green light during its 2016 legislative session but this ‘iLottery’ language was purged before the Senate and House approved the state’s economic development package in late July.
On Wednesday, Goldberg said she’d file her new bill by Nov. 2, one month before she’s required to submit Lottery revenue forecasts for the state’s budget bean-counters. The Lottery earned a $987m profit in fiscal 2016 but this was only $1m more than the previous year, and Goldberg said the Lottery would have posted a decline were it not for the excitement over January’s $1.5b Powerball jackpot.
The Boston Herald quoted Goldberg noting that scratch ticket sales were on the decline, an alarming trend given that instant-win tickets account for 70% of overall Lottery sales. Goldberg said the Lottery would also face future challenges from the new casinos being built in the state.
Goldberg’s announcement has already drawn flak from anti-gambling groups, but she noted that “moving the lottery online will allow us to better monitor players who have a gambling problem,” capabilities she insists are “simply not available currently.”
Goldberg said her plan would also allow for a Lottery-run daily fantasy sports product, which she believes will appeal to a younger male audience that has shown great disdain for Lottery products but who are “extremely excited by sports-related fantasies.”
Last December, the Lottery issued a request for proposals (RFP) for an ‘iLottery system’ that could encompass everything from digital lottery games to DFS to social casino gaming. By April, the Lottery claimed to have received 20 responses to its RFP.
It remains to be seen whether Massachusetts legislators will have the stones to approve Goldberg’s online plans. Her previous effort was adamantly opposed by the state’s lottery retailers, who expressed fears that their sales would fall if players didn’t need to leave the house to purchase lottery products.
Meanwhile, the Michigan Lottery announced a new deal with Instant Win Gaming (IWG) to integrate the company’s Remote Gaming Server. IWG’s roster of over 300 instant win games will now be available to Michigan residents via web and mobile devices.