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State Sen. Rush Wants Online Gaming Program for Mass.

State Treasurer Steve Grossman does not support current proposal due to believed conflict with federal law.

, State Sen. Michael Rush filed legislation that would allow the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission to create a online gambling pilot program that proponents say could net $1 billion a year for the Commonwealth.

“Massachusetts has always been at the forefront of innovation in state lottery gaming and I believe that to continue to do so means adding robust online lottery gaming to the current offerings,” said John Regan, Chief of Staff to Rush. “This is more than just allowing the purchase of lottery tickets online – this is a new, interactive way of playing the lottery through new online games of chance.”

The state lottery would be provided with new revenue streams that would boost local aid, said Regan. 

Regan said the online program would be more secure than offshore online gaming operators that currently dominate online sales. 

On Tuesday a hearing in front of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure was held on the legislation, although no testimony was heard from either side, according to the State House News Service

State Treasurer Steve Grossman has said that he believes the proposal would violate a federal law, while others involved in the lottery industry feel otherwise.

Rush's office says the right of state lotteries to conduct internet lottery gaming was granted in 2006 by the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, but Grossman says any payment or collection of funds for online gaming through U.S. banks by credit card actually violates the Act.

Rush's proposal would be similar to online lottery gaming programs like Canada, that use prepaid player accounts (not using credit cards). This is believed to allow for better monitoring, expanded age verification and prevention of problem gaming, said Regan. 

Other politicians like Congressman Barney Frank have come out in support of selling online gaming tickets.

If the pilot program were to be created, after one year of activity state lottery officials would report back to the Legislature on its success, and it would be evaluated at that time.

Greg Agnew July 29, 2011 at 02:14 PM
Yet another bad move by Mike Rush - supporting online gambling, and disagreeing with a State Treasurer who has far more experience in this realm than most. It's almost certain that by allowing online gambling through both gaming and through the purchasing of lottery tickets, Massachusetts would violate a federal law that prohibits the exchange of funds for gambling through the Federal Reserve by U.S. Banks and credit card companies. Online gaming is a dangerous activity for those who have an uncontrollable addiction to it. Anyone who supports the plan, also supports putting thousands of Massachusetts residents at risk who already have a problem, potentially allowing people to plunge further into debt, risking the credit of their families, their homes, and their livelihood. Lastly, what about all of the local, independently owned businesses in Massachusetts that sell lottery tickets, Keno, and other gambling mechanisms? Are they to suffer a loss in business because people are at home, charging their credit cards, believing they can hit it big as long as keep playing? Massachusetts isn't Las Vegas, Mike Rush, let's keep it that way. Let's protect our already hurting small business owners and give them confidence in the future of their business, while encouraging those who have a problem to seek help for their gambling addiction.
indio July 29, 2011 at 07:21 PM
First off, lets enlighten ourselves to the ignorance of facts and protectionist opinions of Greg Agnew. Hey Greg, if you actually bothered to read the UIGEA which you reference, you would know that INTRA-state transactions is not considered illegal (section 10 B), many INTER-state gambling options have exemptions (exp.horse racing, fantasy sports,) and that the Federal Reserve rules for banks regarding this statute are about as ambiguous and passive as can be. On another note, who cares that retail shops might lose business in lottery sales? Once upon a time, many shops had telegraph offices, or were near a telegraph office, looking to sell goods and services to those that sent or received a telegram. Then the telephone got invented. Should we have banned use of the telephone so that the grocer next to the telegraph office can sell a few more licorice sticks to the telegraph patrons? In a true free country with free markets, the consumer is given choices and ultimately gets the best deal. Unfortunately, state control of lotteries, and protectionist rules to protect certain gambling businesses over others means the consumer loses. What no one seems to talk about, is that the government squashes competition so they can reap maximum revenues by offering consumers a rip-off game. A daily number has a 999-1 chance of hitting, but they pay you 499-1, which means they take 50% of the money, while many free market providers would gladly give you 950-1 and be happy with a 5 % take.

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