Sunday July 31,2011  : Two-year pilot programme proposal
 
A new online gambling proposal Bill S.132 authorising the Massachusetts Lottery Commission to conduct an online gambling pilot programme has come to light.
 
The bill filed in late January this year by State Senator Michael Rush has proponents estimating that The Commonwealth of Massachusetts could potentially net $ 1 billion per annum from the programme.
 
Senator Rush believes that the introduction of intrastate online gambling through the lottery would be good for the State financially and safer for its residents than playing on foreign websites.
 
Pre-paid player accounts, similar to the model utilised in Canada, would allow the State to monitor gambling activity, expand age verification and assist in the prevention of problem gambling.
 
Massachusetts Treasurer Steven Grossman, whose initial stance on the bill was that it violated Federal law, now believes the measure should be passed by the legislature despite his concerns, saying: "It’s clear Washington is moving toward online gambling. If Congress regulates the industry, Massachusetts wants to be one of the first States to take advantage of it, rather than being one of the states left behind."
 
John Regan, State Senator Rush's chief of staff said: "Massachusetts has always been at the forefront of innovation in state lottery gaming and I believe that to continue to do so means adding robust online lottery gaming to the current offerings. This is more than just allowing the purchase of lottery tickets online – this is a new, interactive way of playing the lottery through new online games of chance.”
 
Under the pilot programme, the Massachusetts Lottery Commission would be tasked with exploring internet sales channels and evaluating new technologies, delivery mechanisms, sales channels and other innovations not previously offered.  The proposed pilot would run for a period of twenty-four months, with an interim report of the results delivered eighteen months into the programme.
 
A hearing on the proposed bill was due to be held this week before the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure.