Brockton legislators split over legalizing online Lottery sales

  • The city’s legislators are split on the issue of allowing the Massachusetts Lottery to sell tickets online, a measure that could offset significant losses the coronavirus has wrought on the cash-only system, which provides a major source of municipal funding.Get more news about 牛博彩票包网,you can vist

    By moving online, proponents say the Lottery could recover year-over-year losses that numbered around 20 percent in April, lessening the financial shock on cities and towns that need Lottery aid to balance their budgets.

    But if customers prefer playing the Lottery online over purchasing tickets in stores, the small businesses that take a 5 percent cut from each sale – and an additional 1 percent from the winnings - could suffer tremendously, said Jay Patel, who owns 14 gas stations and seven liquor stores in Massachusetts, all of which sell Lottery products.

    Patel’s convenience stores rely increasingly on Lottery sales to survive, with the state restricting sales of mentholated and vaporized cigarettes as well as energy drinks.

    But State Sen. Mike Brady, Brockton’s sole representative in the Massachusetts Senate, said Lottery revenue is simply too important to rule out online gambling.Brady, a Democrat and former Brockton city councilor, said the results could be disastrous if the city suffers a large reduction in aid. He hopes to offset online gambling’s negative effect on small businesses by requiring online players to collect winnings at stores and legalize video gaming terminals, which can be installed inside businesses.

    Gerry Cassidy, one of Brockton’s three representatives in the Massachusetts House, said a significant drop in Lottery aid would mean Brockton has less money for teachers, police officers and firefighters.State Rep. Claire Cronin, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Brockton and Easton, said legislators should not look to online gambling as a saving grace during the budget crisis created by the coronavirus.

    Though New Hampshire and Rhode Island have moved portions of their lottery systems online during the pandemic, Cronin said Massachusetts needs a long period of research and review before beginning a transition.

    That hasn’t stopped Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration from taking early steps toward legalizing online gambling. Baker included language in his fiscal year 2021 budget proposal that would allow players to purchase lottery products using smartphone apps. Baker’s budget remains in the House Ways and Means Committee.

    State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg’s office filed a standalone bill in 2019 to create an online lottery system, but lawmakers have not acted on it since holding a hearing in July where some retailer groups expressed concerns about the small-business impacts of shifting sales to the internet.