BOSTON, Mass. — Massachusetts Lottery officials asked lawmakers Tuesday to pass legislation that would let the agency experiment with online gambling.
"We are not proposing to offer these games to our players with an actual cash transaction, nor are we seeking any appropriation to fund such operations," Lottery Assistant Executive Director Beth Bresnahan told the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. "Rather, in the interests of preserving and protecting the Lottery, we simply want to ensure that we have a solid understanding of the technology and logistics of online gaming should this market space become more competitive. Existing law does not permit us to conduct such experimentation."
Bresnahan said the law prohibits online games even when no money is involved, and the Lottery's main goal would be to experiment online with an eye toward actual gambling one day.
The Lottery expects a drop in revenues when casinos open in the state.
Proponents say online gambling could eventually provide new revenue on which cities and towns rely for local aid.
Opponents say online gambling could hurt retailers who sell lottery tickets.
"Why try to fix something that isn't broken?" said Joseph Green, senior division manager of Tedeschi Food Shops, who opposes the bill. He said the loss of revenue from lottery players could cost jobs and said the bill would authorize the use of credit cards for lottery products, which could contribute to problem gambling.
The hearing occurred a little over a year after Treasurer Steven Grossman's Online Products Task Force recommended Internet lottery games. Grossman oversees the Massachusetts Lottery.