Digitization app puts lottery on the verge of selling online
The Massachusetts Lottery still hasn’t taken hold of the online market, but it’s not for lack of trying.
While state lawmakers remain indifferent or undecided about an internet presence, the Lottery has taken a digital step with the unveiling of a mobile app that allows players to scan tickets remotely.
Pushing this limit further, players with remotely scanned winning tickets in some cases can now submit a claim through this lottery app and have that prize deposited directly into their bank account.
Lottery officials successfully demonstrated this latest innovation recently, when a Blackstone woman used the process to deposit a winning $1,000 scratch ticket into her account – from the comfort of her own home.
“It was so simple,” Elaine Tellstone said. “It took me less than five minutes to scan my ticket and submit my claim. Depending on the traffic and the number of people queuing, it would have taken me about two hours of my day to claim my prize in person in Worcester.
Lottery officials contacted Tellstone, which had used the check tickets feature, to try out the prize claim functionality, as they prepare to make it more widely available.
Last fall, the Lottery announced that it was developing a way for players to collect big prizes from their phone and have their winnings deposited directly into a bank account.
Around the start of the year, lottery players started scanning tickets in the app to find a winner.
Since the ticket scanning feature was introduced, more than 16,000 players have registered and scanned more than 2.8 million tickets, the Lottery said. The prize claim feature will slowly expand to more players in the coming weeks and should be widely available in early summer.
“Making remote ticket cash transactions available is a tremendous step forward for the Lottery in welcoming our customers,” said Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who chairs the State Lottery Commission.
She has been lobbying the Legislative Assembly for years to allow the Lottery to add an online component.
Mobile cashing will only be available for prizes between $601 and $5,000 – amounts that can currently only be claimed at the lottery’s headquarters in Dorchester or at one of the regional claims centers in the agency. Net winnings will be forwarded directly to a registered bank account after deduction of any unpaid child support or tax liability.
Convenience stores, which rely on foot traffic from lottery players, shouldn’t be negatively affected by this latest development; they will continue to process prize requests of $600 or less.
“This is a real game-changer for the Lottery and our customers,” said Lottery Executive Director Michael Sweeney. “We need to be where the customers are and where the consumer is across the economy is mobile and using modern technology.”
Using 2019 prize claim data as a baseline and assuming a 50% acceptance rate for the new mobile cashing app, the Lottery previously estimated it could eliminate over 78,000 claim trips from prices to lottery locations and a corresponding reduction of 2.78 million kilometres.
And that’s not the only green that this mobile cashing app would generate. The lottery also said it would also anticipate consuming more than 110,000 gallons of gasoline and 983.1 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
The Lottery did everything it could at the margins of the Internet. The next logical step would be the ability to offer online games that customers could play.
As Sweeney, Executive Director of the Lottery stated, many consumers today conduct their business and leisure activities through a smartphone or other digital device.
This is the market the Lottery needs to tap into in order to sustain its annual contribution of approximately $1 billion in local aid to cities and towns across the state.
It’s a tax fact that everyone but the Legislature realizes.