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Massachusetts Senate weighing plan to give Lottery 'broad mandate' for online games

Massachusetts LotteryMassachusetts Lottery: Massachusetts Senate weighing plan to give Lottery 'broad mandate' for online games
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BOSTON, Mass. — If the Massachusetts State Lottery is to continue to thrive and return hundreds of millions of dollars to cities and towns, it must have the ability to move online in some fashion, its executive director said, but it first needs permission from the Legislature to test the World Wide Web's waters.

"It's critical to the Lottery's future ability to produce revenue that we're allowed to engage clearly changing technology and, to me, what is a very strong change in the commerce pattern that consumers engage in," Lottery Executive Director Michael Sweeney told the News Service. "That's increasingly online and I think that the marketplace is driving just about every business in that direction... it's certainly a space the Lottery has to have the opportunity to also occupy."

To facilitate the Lottery's Internet exploration, Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) has filed a budget amendment that would give the Lottery the ability to issue a request for proposals and begin the process of making Lottery products available online.

"We have the most productive, most successful lottery in the country, our cities and towns benefit from that, the state benefits from that," Flanagan said. "But we cannot be left behind. We really need to start to look forward, and the amendment allows the Lottery to begin that process."

Flanagan's amendment — which she said mirrors a bill she's filed each of the last two sessions — would authorize the Lottery to offer its current slate of games online as long as it is able to verify that players are at least 18 years old and are in Massachusetts.

"It's important that we give the Lottery time to ease into this," Flanagan said. "Certainly the world around us is changing, everything is going to mobile and if you're going to move a lottery to an online system it's going to take time. I think it's important to, and we have a responsibility to, look ahead."

Sweeney also noted that any move onto the Internet would take time. The length of the procurement and contracting process, he said, "adds to the urgency of hopefully getting something passed during this current legislative session."

The Lottery has gone as far as it can without enabling legislation, Sweeney said, and it is "critical we get this guidance from leadership on the House and Senate sides."

Flanagan's amendment (#298) is expected to be considered this week as the Senate debates its fiscal 2017 budget proposal. Sweeney said the amendment would give the Lottery the ability to explore a diverse array of online options and provides "the flexibility to be able to accurately respond to marketplace and consumer demands."

"We view the language in Sen. Flanagan's bill as being a very broad-based mandate and frankly that is what we're looking for," Sweeney said. "It's critical because what I've found in studying this over the last year is that technology in this world — the online world and the lottery world — is changing and developing so quickly that if too many language parameters are put around it in an enabling act, I'm concerned that would constrict our ability to react, potentially too narrowly."

The Lottery has already begun to study some of the possibilities. In December, the Massachusetts Lottery Commission issued a request for information, inviting organizations to submit proposals for development, implementation, operational support and maintenance of an online lottery system.

That RFI — which garnered 20 responses — asked for proposals for "the development and integration of digital versions of existing and new lottery games ('iLottery Games'), including but not limited to social gaming and daily fantasy sports options."

The Lottery was also interested in information about "gaming systems that allow for cross-pollination between online applications and physical retailer space and any other progressive gaming opportunities that may be available."

Convenience store owners, who rely on the Lottery for some of their business, have strongly opposed a Lottery move to the Internet.

Sweeney last year told House and Senate budget writers about the need for innovation at the Lottery, "We're running an operation that is cash dependent and also has no online presence. And I think businesses in the private sector that have followed that particular model have quickly ended up in the scrap heap of history."

A 2012 report from then-Treasurer Steve Grossman's Online Products Task Force concluded that if the Lottery does not jump into the online world, other web-based products will eventually cannibalize the Lottery's players and revenues.

"The introduction of online products and play is inevitable as it is indisputable that the world is shifting rapidly to online and mobile for all manner of commerce," the report's conclusion states. "The threat is imminent."

Despite its dire warning, the task force's report also concluded that opening up an online channel for the Lottery to sell its products "may not significantly increase the number and type of players who currently engage with Lottery products."

And Treasurer Deborah Goldberg late last year cautioned lawmakers that the recent string of record-level Lottery sales will not continue unless the Lottery adapts to compete with the state's growing casino gaming industry and daily fantasy sports contests.

Goldberg has touted the idea of a Lottery-run fantasy sports game, which she said would attract a younger audience that favors playing on mobile devices, particularly 25-to-45-year-old males "who are not Lottery players (and) who are extremely excited by sports-related fantasies."

While Flanagan's amendment deals solely with existing Lottery products, Sen. Eileen Donoghue of Lowell has filed a budget amendment to establish a special commission to study "the regulation of fantasy gaming and daily fantasy sports in the commonwealth."

Donoghue's amendment calls for nine people to be appointed to review all aspects of fantasy gaming, including "economic development, consumer protection, taxation, legal and regulatory structures, implications for the Massachusetts gaming community, burdens and benefits to the commonwealth and any other factors the commission deems relevant."

The governor, Gaming Commission, attorney general, Senate president, House speaker and the minority leaders of each branch would appoint members to the nine-person commission, and Donoghue's amendment calls for the commission to report back with its findings and recommendations by March 2017.

State House News Service

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15 comments. Last comment 6 months ago by Stack47.
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Raven62's avatar - binary
New Jersey
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Posted: May 25, 2016, 12:58 pm - IP Logged

Massachussetts: Leading the Way!

A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

    LiveInGreenBay's avatar - driver
    Green Bay
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    Posted: May 25, 2016, 1:39 pm - IP Logged

    No thanks.  What does MA offer that other states don't?  I don't see an advantage here.

    Never give up.  Banana

      Think's avatar - lightbulb
      Marquette, MI
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      Posted: May 25, 2016, 2:14 pm - IP Logged

      Massachussetts: Leading the Way!

      Other states, including Michigan, have had online sales for some time.

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        Simpsonville
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        Posted: May 25, 2016, 8:49 pm - IP Logged

        No thanks.  What does MA offer that other states don't?  I don't see an advantage here.

        You won't be able to play anyway; have to be in geographical Massachusetts.  Just like here in KY, have to in state to play.  Thank the Feds and that antiquated 1961 law for this.  Anyway won $8 on MM with MP last night clicking on quick pick/delete until the combination I wanted came up.

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          Kentucky
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          Posted: May 25, 2016, 11:51 pm - IP Logged

          We're about due for the weekly reminder that Massachusetts Lottery sells subscriptions to a game with terrible odds and payoffs. Considering the odds against winning the jackpot are almost 14 million to 1, the current jackpot at $2.1 million, and only 1.85% of the tickets win anything, why anybody would play for a year in advance just doesn't make any sense.

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            Simpsonville
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            Posted: May 27, 2016, 2:58 pm - IP Logged

            We're about due for the weekly reminder that Massachusetts Lottery sells subscriptions to a game with terrible odds and payoffs. Considering the odds against winning the jackpot are almost 14 million to 1, the current jackpot at $2.1 million, and only 1.85% of the tickets win anything, why anybody would play for a year in advance just doesn't make any sense.

            Stack47:  Maybe I won't win the big one from my home state, BUT I enjoy my four subscription tickets, MM, PB, Megabucks and LFL.  So I'll be the spokesman this time not our friend in Australia! 

            I do love the on-line service in KY, just click away in Simpsonville.  Not a big winner so far, but did win $9 so far this week.

            I consider MA much more progressive than KY and was proved wrong when KLC offered this service.  Hoping Todd or Chip Polston lets us know how it is doing versus buying in the store.

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              Kentucky
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              Posted: May 27, 2016, 10:46 pm - IP Logged

              Stack47:  Maybe I won't win the big one from my home state, BUT I enjoy my four subscription tickets, MM, PB, Megabucks and LFL.  So I'll be the spokesman this time not our friend in Australia! 

              I do love the on-line service in KY, just click away in Simpsonville.  Not a big winner so far, but did win $9 so far this week.

              I consider MA much more progressive than KY and was proved wrong when KLC offered this service.  Hoping Todd or Chip Polston lets us know how it is doing versus buying in the store.

              I was talking about the terrible odds on the one game that KY doesn't offer. Is your subscription in the red or black? 

              "Hoping Todd or Chip Polston lets us know how it is doing versus buying in the store."

              Based on that they show first name and city of the online instant play winners, I'm assuming that is the majority of online play sales. And when we can pay $20 for a Ifund ticket and get $25 worth of play, it's a no-brainer to buy them at the store. I never found the daily or weekly sales numbers on the KY site or any other site so I doubt anyone from LP or the KY Lottery will be giving us that info.

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                Simpsonville
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                Posted: May 28, 2016, 10:17 am - IP Logged

                I was talking about the terrible odds on the one game that KY doesn't offer. Is your subscription in the red or black? 

                "Hoping Todd or Chip Polston lets us know how it is doing versus buying in the store."

                Based on that they show first name and city of the online instant play winners, I'm assuming that is the majority of online play sales. And when we can pay $20 for a Ifund ticket and get $25 worth of play, it's a no-brainer to buy them at the store. I never found the daily or weekly sales numbers on the KY site or any other site so I doubt anyone from LP or the KY Lottery will be giving us that info.

                In the red big time.  Megabucks has sent several $10 checks, none for the other three.  It is my only vice, i.e. don't drink, smoke or do drugs.  My point is no harm no foul.  I MAY take a year off from playing the multi-state subscriptions and just stick to Megabucks Doubler.

                 

                You are correct about the $5 in free play.  Thought about it several times, store right down the road a short walk, but then the temptation to point/click/play comes in and it is done.

                Going on my second part of the vice this afternoon, to the boat, something KY will never have.  May buy MM and PB tickets in Indiana.  Boat to those not in the know is the Horseshoe Casino in S. Indiana, that's what we call it here.  Folks always say 'I'm going to the boat' and we know what they mean.  KY tagged vehicles outnumber the IN ones I'd say 3-1 if not greater.

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                  Kentucky
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                  Posted: May 28, 2016, 10:04 pm - IP Logged

                  In the red big time.  Megabucks has sent several $10 checks, none for the other three.  It is my only vice, i.e. don't drink, smoke or do drugs.  My point is no harm no foul.  I MAY take a year off from playing the multi-state subscriptions and just stick to Megabucks Doubler.

                   

                  You are correct about the $5 in free play.  Thought about it several times, store right down the road a short walk, but then the temptation to point/click/play comes in and it is done.

                  Going on my second part of the vice this afternoon, to the boat, something KY will never have.  May buy MM and PB tickets in Indiana.  Boat to those not in the know is the Horseshoe Casino in S. Indiana, that's what we call it here.  Folks always say 'I'm going to the boat' and we know what they mean.  KY tagged vehicles outnumber the IN ones I'd say 3-1 if not greater.

                  When I lived in Ohio (before they got casino gambling) Mountaineer Park in WVA had lots of Ohio plates and so did Wheeling Downs. The Ohio casinos took lots of players from Belterra and Rising Sun though Pinnacle Entertainment owns River Downs Race Track.

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                    Simpsonville
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                    Posted: May 29, 2016, 7:24 am - IP Logged

                    When I lived in Ohio (before they got casino gambling) Mountaineer Park in WVA had lots of Ohio plates and so did Wheeling Downs. The Ohio casinos took lots of players from Belterra and Rising Sun though Pinnacle Entertainment owns River Downs Race Track.

                    Pinnacle also owns Belterra Gaming Park in Cincinnati.  It is like Plainridge in Massachusetts in that it is non-smoking and no live table games.  Didn't win the Escape last night, nor anything else for that matter @ Horseshoe.  Did you know Caesars Entertainment sold all three Ohio Casinos they owned?

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                      Framingham,Ma
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                      Posted: May 29, 2016, 9:06 am - IP Logged

                      If Mass just went back to the payouts it used to have on scratch tickets sales would go way up. used to be alot more million dollar winners in the games, used to be alot more winners period. now you can buy over 15 tickets and not get anything, was a time you bought 6 and at least won something. plus just keep adding new games. with on-line betting people will be using credit cards and making bets can't afford.think this is big mistake. money from lotteries was supposed to be for schools yet most states have made these funds open to any use in a general fund

                        haymaker's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
                        Egg Harbor twp.south Jersey shore
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                        Posted: May 29, 2016, 10:02 am - IP Logged

                        Pinnacle also owns Belterra Gaming Park in Cincinnati.  It is like Plainridge in Massachusetts in that it is non-smoking and no live table games.  Didn't win the Escape last night, nor anything else for that matter @ Horseshoe.  Did you know Caesars Entertainment sold all three Ohio Casinos they owned?

                        Didn't know about Caesars Ent. selling Ohio, not surprised though.

                        I worked for Atlantic city Showboat, which they also owned and closed even though it was pulling a profit.

                        Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds    -- Charles Mackay  LL.D.

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                          Simpsonville
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                          Posted: May 29, 2016, 10:12 am - IP Logged

                          Didn't know about Caesars Ent. selling Ohio, not surprised though.

                          I worked for Atlantic city Showboat, which they also owned and closed even though it was pulling a profit.

                          As a small time investor in Caesars wish they hadn't closed the Ohio casinos.  Showboat wasn't too bad, pulling a profit and close it anyway doesn't make sense to me.  What I really miss is Revel casino!

                           

                          Back to lottery discussion I found a lottery stand just past registration in Bally's AC.  I believe it makes good business sense like I've said before to keep folks on their properties if they want lottery tickets.

                            RL-RANDOMLOGIC's avatar - usafce

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                            Posted: May 30, 2016, 12:25 am - IP Logged

                            I wish they would adopt online sales here in MO.  It's a pain to have to drive to a retailer to purchase

                            tickets which adds to the ticket cost.  I think I would play more often but play fewer lines.  Many times

                            I pick a couple lines but don't pick them up.  Who wants to drive to a retailer in winter months to pick

                            up a couple tickets?   I do however think they should impose some kind of limit either daily, weekly or

                            monthly.    Online sales could create a easy way to buyout some games when the JP gets high enough.

                            RL

                            Working on my Ph.D.  "University of hard Knocks"

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                            they are not.  Many great discoveries come while searching for something else

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