OPINION | Barry Richard: Should the Mass Lottery Move to the Internet?
Senate Majority Whip Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) tells me it is inevitable that the Massachusetts Lottery will move the bulk of its games, including scratch tickets, from retail outlets to the internet. Legislation filed by the State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg would do just that.
Scratch ticket sales are down. Way down. Long time players say it's because there are fewer winning tickets. Lottery officials deny that, but admit interest in the tickets has waned. Other states have introduced iLottery gaming online and it has attracted new and younger players. Can it work here? The Treasurer believes that it can.
Not everyone is happy with the idea of a high tech lottery. Retail and liquor stores say lottery ticket sales drive traffic to their establishments and some fear the loss of business on top of other proposals such as a $15 minimum wage, employer paid sick and family leave time and the so-called millionaires tax could finish them off for good.
When Michigan moved its lottery to the internet it negotiated terms with retailers that allowed them to stay in the game. The stores were allowed to continue selling some of the more popular tickets. iLottery websites offered in store coupons to consumers as an incentive to drive traffic to brick and mortar stores.
The times they are a changin' make no doubt about it. The way we shop for everything including lottery tickets is changing too. What this means for brick and mortar has yet to be determined. Change is a part of life. Whether the public adapts to changes to the nation's most successful lottery system will be determined by you the consumer.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.