Will online ticket courier system hit jackpot for Lottery?

Will online ticket courier system hit jackpot for Lottery?

Thanks to a recalcitrant Senate, the Legislature again didn’t provide any mechanism in the recently passed fiscal 2024 budget for the Massachusetts Lottery to offer its products on the Internet.

However, an option does exist for players to order tickets online or via their smartphones.

Courier services that buy lottery tickets on behalf of their clients have existed for years, albeit in various degrees of legitimacy.

Back in 2021, Mass. Lottery officials cautioned that they were becoming more common and raised the possibility of regulating them.

But a new service rolled out in late July frames itself as a non-affiliated Lottery partner.

While Jackpocket has no formal association with the Mass. Lottery, the company says that its in-state presence “will continue to help drive state revenue while attracting new consumers” by broadening access to many of the Lottery’s offerings.

CEO Peter Sullivan said in a statement that Jackpocket would “take the lead showcasing how gaming can be a safe, fun, and integral piece of generating state revenues.”

The Jackpocket app allows those 18 or older physically located in Massachusetts to place orders for Powerball, Mega Millions, MassCash, Megabucks Doubler, Lucky for Life, and The Numbers Game on their phone or desktop.

The courier service charges customers only the actual cost of their tickets and takes no cut of a user’s winnings. Instead, users pay a convenience fee when they initially fund their Jackpocket accounts.

Jackpocket then sends someone to fulfill those orders in person at an official Lottery retailer, the company said.

After a player places an order on Jackpocket, scans of the front and back of the ticket are uploaded to their account. Jackpocket notifies customers if their tickets are winners and automatically credits the full winnings — for prizes up to $600 — to the user’s account.

Amounts greater than $600 must be claimed at a Lottery office rather than a retailer. In that case, Jackpocket transfers the physical winning ticket to the user, either by insured delivery or via an in-person handoff.

Jackpocket partners with the convenience store chain Circle K, which is also one of Jackpocket’s investors, and fulfills Massachusetts orders at the Circle K in Methuen, the company said.

Massachusetts became Jackpocket’s 17th client state when it launched here on July 25.

With Bay State residents showing a steady willingness to shell out their money for that elusive winning ticket, Treasurer Deborah Goldberg has long supported making the Lottery’s products available online.

House officials estimated that online Lottery sales could produce $200 million in new revenue for the state, but the Senate did not include the measure in its budget and the House proposal did not make it into the final compromise budget.

While the Senate shut the door on digital sales, courier services – in this case Jackpocket – at least give the Lottery an online toe hold that could eventually lead to an Internet-related entity.

That could come to fruition if a substantial number of younger, more digital-friendly individuals start using the ticket-buying app.

One influential lawmaker believes this new peripheral player will help maintain the Lottery’s role as a cash cow for the state’s 351 communities.

“I’m encouraged by Jackpocket’s track record in the 16 other jurisdictions where they currently operate, and look forward to seeing how their safe, responsible way for playing the lottery can help ensure that our commitment to funding our cities and towns will be met,” said Rep. Mark Cusack of Braintree, the House chair of the Revenue Committee, in a statement provided by Jackpocket.

The company said it holds Internet Compliance Assessment Program (iCAP) accreditation for best practice in player protection in online gambling, which includes an assessment of overall compliance by the National Council on Problem Gambling. The app also offers daily deposit and spending limits, self-exclusion, and in-app access to responsible gambling resources, similar to measures that state laws and regulations require for daily fantasy sports and online sports betting platforms.

This personal digital ticket program will certainly have its detractors.

Senators wary about a proliferation of problem gamblers might not embrace the idea of how easy this remote route makes purchasing a Lottery ticket, even with safeguards in place.

And while tickets must still be bought in person at retail outlets, those Jackpocket purchasers won’t bring in the additional revenue that normal customers generate.

It will be interesting to see if Jackpocket actually drives Lottery sales – and how much pushback it receives from retail outlets.