State officials to offer online gambling

BOSTON (WWLP) - State Lottery officials want to expand and offer online gambling.

Convenience stores say a significant portion of their profits depend on lottery ticket sales. They fear online gaming will cut in to their regular lottery-playing customers, resulting in lost revenue and lost jobs.

The State Lottery is asking state lawmakers to approve a bill that would let them experiment with online gambling. Lottery officials say they want to set up a “virtual” site to test the process with no actual dollars being wagered.

Lottery Assistant Executive Director, Beth Bresnahan, told 22News, “We want to be clear on this point, we’re not proposing to offer these games to our players with actual cash transaction, not are we seeking any appropriation to fund such operations.”

However, convenience store owners say the bill also legalizes online games where money could be wagered. More than 7,000 Massachusetts convenience stores rely on state Lottery products to generate business.

Stephen Ryan, Executive Director of New England Convenience Store Association told 22News, “One of the main issues we see is that if folks are being diverted and they’re going on the internet to play these games, they’re no longer coming into the stores and what’s called ancillary sales will be lost.”

With the advent on online gaming, retailers fear the state Lottery will now become their competitor.

“40 percent is going to go to online if this goes through, well that’s 40 percent of my customers that aren’t going to be coming into the store everyday to get their lottery tickets, bread, milk and other ancillary products,” said David Murdock, Executive Director of Honey Farms.

As New York and Illinois create online gaming websites, Massachusetts doesn’t want to lose out on potential gaming revenue. State Lottery officials say now is the time to prepare for a new generation of lottery players.

Convenience stores also oppose credit cards used for online gaming. Without being able to check a person’s identification, they believe credit cards can be used for underage gambling.

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