Mass. Treasurer Wants To Allow Lottery Purchases By Debit, Apps

BOSTON (State House News Service) — Allowing people to buy scratch tickets and draw game numbers with debit cards or other cashless options is the first of a series of "baby steps" in modernizing the Massachusetts Lottery, with full online access still the ultimate goal.

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg told the Joint Ways and Means Committee on Monday that she's fully behind Gov. Charlie Baker's budget policy proposal that would allow players to buy Lottery products with debit cards and cashless payment smartphone apps. The prohibition on credit card purchases and online sales would remain.

"My elderly parents, believe it or not, they use their cellphones and have cashless options available. Most younger people today have debit cards," Goldberg said. She added, "Done correctly, cashless payments will help generate new revenue for retailers and for the state. The overwhelming majority of states have already realized this benefit -- 35 of the 44 states with a Lottery offer cashless payment options. I'm not saying credit cards, I am saying cashless payment options."

Goldberg has been pressing lawmakers for years to allow the cash-only Lottery to shed its exclusive reliance on cash. She said Monday that she still wants the Legislature to authorize the Lottery to move online, but said, "at this time I am taking baby steps and asking for the opportunity to have cashless options."

Goldberg asked the Ways and Means Committee on Monday for a $5 million increase over the $88 million Baker proposed for the Lottery in fiscal year 2021. She said the additional money would "go directly to tech improvements, including cybersecurity and IT staffing."

Halfway through fiscal 2020, the Massachusetts Lottery is running $61 million behind last year's record-setting sales and profit pace, a pace attributed to a dearth of big jackpots and an increase in sales of products with higher payout odds.

Goldberg said Monday she has "some big concerns about this year" at the Lottery, though Executive Director Michael Sweeney said the agency is confident it will hit its projection that it will return $967 million in revenue to the state this budget year.

by Colin A. Young, State House News Service

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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