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Let’s embrace online lotto with eyes wide open – Lowell Sun

FILE – New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu shows his receipt after placing the first legal sports betting bet on his cell phone in Manchester, NH, on December 30, 2019. The New York State Gaming Commission made Thursday, January 6, 2022 announced that four of the nine mobile sports betting providers, including Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, FanDuel and Rush Street Interactive, have been approved to accept bets starting this Saturday. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

As the Massachusetts legislature considers the introduction of online lotteries, we are at a critical juncture. This decision will have far-reaching consequences and impact our state’s revenues, the 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 lotteries with the need for responsible regulation and player protection.

First and foremost, let’s recognize the appeal of online lotteries. Proponents claim it will generate significant revenue, improve player experience and compete with illegal online gambling operators. These are compelling points, especially in light of our state’s ongoing budget problems. However, we owe it to ourselves, our children and our communities not to let the promise of income cloud our judgment. We must prioritize responsible gambling practices and reduce the risks associated with online lotteries – because the risks are real.

Research has shown that online gambling can increase the risk of gambling addiction, especially among vulnerable population groups such as young people and people with low incomes. Furthermore, the convenience and accessibility of online platforms can lead to an increase in problem gambling behavior. We cannot afford to ignore these warning signs.

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

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

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

Let’s embrace the online lottery with our eyes wide open, aware 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.

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