Massachusetts Treasurer Steven Grossman is planning to ask the Legislature to let the state lottery operate online gambling. Currently, under state law, consumers can only buy lottery tickets in person and only with cash. But Grossman plans to ask the legislature to remove those restrictions.
Ultimately, this is about more than just selling lottery tickets online. If the legislature agrees, Grossman says the lottery could pilot a whole range of online games, like fantasy football or online poker.
"We will be testing online sale of lucky for life, of powerball, of other kinds of games, within the confines of the rules,” Grossman explains. “We will probably create a social game like a fantasy football, for example with no money attached to it. But with no pot. But at least a way to connect people who are using mobile apps with the lottery."
Grossman says he’s looking for ways to draw younger people into the lottery.
"Younger people don’t play the lottery much. The more likely player of the lottery is somewhat older,” he explains. “So in the future you want people to use the future and do it with a way that’s consistent with the way they like to derive their entertainment and it’s all going to be about handhelds and mobile devices."
Grossman says this move is needed to protect the lottery, which provides local aid for cities and towns. He says the state would start with a series of test games to determine which ones would generate the most revenue, starting as soon as next year.
Grossman says he wants to move slowly and develop online gambling in a way that doesn’t take too much money away from the state’s planned casinos, that doesn’t hurt small, neighborhood lottery ticket vendors and doesn’t lead to widespread problem gambling.