New method for claiming winnings to become available next spring
By Kate Northrop
BRAINTREE, Mass. — Players who are tired of traveling to claim centers or mailing away their winning lottery tickets to claim their prizes will soon have a new option. Next spring, the Massachusetts Lottery will begin allowing players to claim larger prizes through their phones.
The Massachusetts Lottery plans on expanding the functionality of its mobile app to give players the options of having winnings deposited directly into a bank account. According to the Lottery, the new alternative in the prize claims process will eliminate millions of miles of travel by car and will subsequently contribute to bringing down greenhouse gas emissions.
"Besides doing all the obvious things like meeting our customers where they already are, meeting the modern-day technology expectations of people, it potentially has a huge impact on the environment," Massachusetts Lottery Director Michael Sweeney remarked.
Players have long advocated for a way of quickly scanning lottery tickets through the mobile app, and the Lottery listened. The first phase of the rollout will accomplish just that, followed by the implementation of the second phase, which is the ability to claim prizes between $601 and $5,000 through the mobile app. Winnings claimed through this method will be wired to a player's bank account after the Lottery withholds any unpaid tax or child support obligations.
Sweeney said that the ability to scan tickets as well as the new claim option will grant players more privacy and convenience.
"If you live on the Cape, you have to drive to New Bedford or Dorchester or Braintree," Sweeney said. "If you live in Western Mass., in Williamstown or North Adams, you have to drive down to Springfield. These are not convenient trips for anyone."
The Lottery estimates that a 50% adoption rate for the new mobile cashing app will mean 78,000 fewer trips to a prize claim center and could potentially eliminate around 2.78 million miles traveled by car, saving at least 110,000 gallons of gasoline and reducing greenhouse gas emissions each year by 983.1 metric tons. These calculations are based on prize claim data from last year.
"The great thing about this is that it's continuous," Sweeney added. "That benefit goes on every single year without additional costs. I think our customers share a general concern about the environment too, and... if you are somebody now who is a frequent lottery player who has in the past had to drive to one of our physical locations, this is an opportunity to both make things more convenient for you but also to do a solid for the environment at the same time."
Since the update to the prize claims process only covers prizes valued greater than $600 and $5,000 or less, winners of $600 or less must still claim their prize at an official Lottery retailer.
Sweeney credited the Ohio Lottery for assisting in the idea and implementation of the new mobile app cashing option, which launched mobile cashing through its own app this April. The Ohio Lottery allows players to cash prizes valued between $50 and $5,000 and processed 7,750 claims worth a cumulative $6.2 million within the first three weeks of launching.
Both Sweeney and Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg pushed Legislature to allow the sale of lottery products online and via a mobile app in order to keep up with modern trends that offer players a more convenient and positive gaming experience. In a bid to meet consumer demands and perform well in an actively changing industry, the Lottery has recently replaced older equipment, updated its data operation, and increased its presence on social media.
This summer, Goldberg estimated that allowing online sales during the Lottery's three worst months of the pandemic could have earned the organization anywhere between $70 million and $80 million in revenue. The closure of many retailers meant that sales declined and consumers moved to online spaces — a change in customer behavior that acted as a detriment, rather an advantage, to the Lottery.
However, the Massachusetts Lottery was one of the state-sponsored lotteries to see a recovery in its sales following the dip, even reaching a net profit of $986.9 million for the state to mark its third-best fiscal year in generating revenue.
Now, the move toward the mobile platform is the Lottery's latest push to compete with casinos, fantasy sports, and likely sports betting while continuing to drive its revenue for the state beyond $900 million.