Mass. Treasurer: State's lotto could move online

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December 14, 2012, 8:00 am
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(NECN) - Soon you might be able to buy lottery tickets without leaving the house. Massachusetts Treasurer Steve Grossman plans to ask Bay State lawmakers to allow the lottery to operate online gambling.

He joins us from our Suffolk University studio downtown.

Currently, under Massachusetts 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.

Why is this a good idea?

“Don’t forget, this all was kicked off last December by the Justice Department which said, from now on, lotteries can offer almost any product, other than sports betting, to in-state adults, using credit cards,” says Grossman. “We felt that after that ruling, we had to move and move quickly to study this whole issue of online gaming. The lottery as you know is almost a $5 billion business. It generated almost a billion dollars in profit last year. It’s the lifeblood of every city and town for local aid for senior center, for firefighters, for quality of life. So if the threat of the internet is imminent, to lotteries all over the country, including our own, the most successful lottery in the country, we felt we had to study it and that’s exactly what we’re doing. So we put together a task force.”

The number one concern is protecting the 7,400 retailers that have been the backbone of the lottery for 40 years.

Grossman says they are very sensitive to stores and they’ve made it clear they will do nothing to undermine the profitability and the health of those small retailers, all over the country, some that are two or three generations old.

“We’re going to protect those retailers. That’s number one requirement of anything we do.”
Grossman says the second concern is problem gaming, problem gambling, excessive gaming and gambling addiction.

The Treasurer says both issues will be studied very carefully and nothing will be done too quickly.

When might this come into play?

They are going to the legislature early next year.

On another note, Grossman is carefully considering a run for governor in 2014.

“I look forward to 2014. Whatever I do, I look forward to being on the ballot. Hopefully to continue to serve the people of this Commonwealth,” Grossman says. “That’s up to them, not up to me.”

Tags: lottery, gubernatorial candidate, Steve Grossman, massachusetts treasuerer, internet gambling
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