, 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.