Home » Beaty: Let’s embrace online lotto with eyes wide open

Beaty: Let’s embrace online lotto with eyes wide open

As the Massachusetts legislature considers the introduction of online lottery, we stand at a critical juncture. This decision will have far-reaching consequences, impacting our state’s revenue, gambling landscape, and most importantly, the well-being of our citizens.

It is imperative that we approach this issue with caution, balancing the potential benefits of online lottery with the need for responsible regulation and player protection.

First and foremost, let us acknowledge the allure of online lottery. Proponents argue that it will generate significant revenue, enhance player experience, and compete with illegal online gambling operators. These are compelling points, particularly in light of our state’s ongoing budget challenges. However, we owe it to ourselves, our children, and our communities to not let the promise of revenue cloud our judgment. We need to prioritize responsible gambling practices and mitigate the risks associated with online lottery – because the risks are real.

Research has shown that online gambling can increase the likelihood of gambling addiction, particularly among vulnerable populations such as youth and low-income individuals. Moreover, the ease and accessibility of online platforms can lead to a rise in problem gambling behavior. We cannot afford to ignore these warning signs.

So, what is the responsible path forward? We must ensure that any online lottery platform is designed with player protection in mind. This includes robust age verification measures, limits on spending and playing time, and resources for those struggling with gambling addiction. Next, we need to invest in education and awareness campaigns to inform the public about the risks and consequences of problem gambling. Lastly, we must establish a dedicated fund to support gambling addiction treatment and support services.

Overall, we must recognize that online lottery is not a panacea for our revenue challenges. We must continue to diversify our revenue streams, investing in sustainable and equitable solutions that benefit all Massachusetts residents. We cannot rely solely on gambling revenue, which disproportionately burdens low-income communities and perpetuates cycles of poverty.

The introduction of online lottery in Massachusetts requires a thoughtful and nuanced approach. We must balance the potential benefits with the need for responsible regulation and player protection. By prioritizing caution, education, and player well-being, we can create a sustainable and equitable gambling landscape that benefits our state and our citizens.

Let us embrace online lottery with our eyes wide open, mindful of the risks and rewards, and committed to a responsible path forward.

Ronald Beaty is a former commissioner on the Barnstable County Board of Regional Commissioners.