Voters in Massachusetts will soon elect 1 member to the U.S. Senate. Aiming to up their chances to win a seat, Senate candidates placed the legalization of online lottery across Massachusetts on the table for discussion. According to Lowell Sun, 4 out of 5 candidates backed up the proposal. The main proponent of the idea is the current Leominster City Councilor Claire Freda, who voiced concerns regarding the latest decision of New Hampshire to regulate the online lottery market. Freda explained that the neighboring New Hampshire is to “steal” the attention of the players from Massachusetts and this will leave the state without the much-needed lottery revenue.
The legislative piece aiming at allowing the online lottery sales within the state’s borders was firstly introduced by the former state Sen. Jennifer Flanagan. Apart from Ms. Claire Freda, who is running as an independent candidate for a seat, the bill was welcomed by other Senate candidates, including Democratic Senate candidate Michael Kushmerek, Democratic Senate candidate Michael Mahan and, Senate candidate Dean Tran.
As aforementioned, Ms. Freda warned that the neighboring New Hampshire, which already passed a bill to expand online lottery within its borders coming into effect from the beginning of the next year, is a potential threat to Massachusetts’ lottery revenue. Michael Kushmerek also expressed his support to the bill, explaining that the state’s economy is in an urgent need of additional funds. However, he noted that he is ready to endorse the bill under one condition, and that is a responsible gambling system, preventing minors from gambling. Last but not least, he outlined that the legalization of online lottery sales tickets may have a negative effect on the local convenience stores, which are an essential part of keeping the state’s economy stable.
Democrat Senate candidate Michael Mahan shared Mr. Kushmerek’s views on the matter. But unlike Kushmerek, who suggested a limit on the number of lottery games, which a person could play online in a certain period of time, Mr. Mahan proposed that the government should use the aid from the online lottery to support these convenience stores.
Opposition to the Lottery Expansion
The only candidate, who did not support the bill was Democrat Sue Chalifoux Zephir, a city councilor-at-large in Leominster. According to Ms. Zephir, an online lottery will not make the sector more attractive to the young players or to the millennials, who lost their interest in the tickets a long time ago. According to the state Lottery Commission, the sales of lottery tickets dropped down with 2.7% for fiscal 2017 compared to the corresponding period from the previous year. Moreover, she did not miss the opportunity to relate the matter to the risks and side effects of gambling.
It is yet to become clear if Massachusetts’ officials will allow locals to purchase lottery tickets online, aiming to stand on top with their rival New Hampshire, or prejudices will hamper the expansion.