Massachusetts Online Lottery Gaining Support

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Add Governor Maura Healey’s name to the list of supporters for an online Lottery system in the Bay State. The Massachusetts governor talked to CBS News about the need to go digital to compete with the rest of the gaming that her state currently offers.

“We have casinos in the state. We also have DraftKings here in the state, and a lot of money is being spent there by a lot of people,” she said. “We also have a lottery system that isn’t able to compete.”

Citing the need to keep the generated revenue in-state, Healey added, “Nothing against DraftKings, but the lottery, that’s money coming back to cities and towns. The money spent on DraftKings is going to DraftKings.”

Six mobile sportsbooks went live in Massachusetts in March, two months after retail sportsbooks made their first appearance. Previous Governor Charlie Baker signed House Bill 5164 into law last August, making sports betting legal in the state.

The Legislative Push

Last week, the Massachusetts House revealed its budget for fiscal year 2024, and it included funds to launch an online “iLottery.” Democratic lawmakers who are pushing for the change say that an online lottery would bring in $200 million in revenue, which would then be used for early childhood education and childcare stabilization grants.

The House is on board, the Governor is on board, and now all that is left is the Senate, where a similar proposed change last year did not make it to the floor.

The Senate has been reluctant to vote on gambling legislation in the past, and the Governor is hoping to change their minds. “I say this as somebody who was really skeptical about the whole thing,” Healey said. “But I think it’s important for us to catch up there and meet people where they are. That’s why I support the treasurer.”

Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg has been a champion of online lottery games since 2016, when she first introduced iLottery legislation a year after she was first elected to the office..

Before her election to governor last year, Healey served as Massachusetts Attorney General, and her office was responsible for writing the rules that covered daily fantasy sports, and later legalized sports betting.

The Unfounded Fears of Retail Loss

Objections to an iLottery are strongest in the retail community, who say that their businesses will be hurt by online access to lottery games. But Rob Wesley, the director of digital at the Virginia Lottery, says that isn’t what the data show.

“The retail growth rate after iLottery has been introduced has actually accelerated. It’s increased at a rate greater than it was prior to iLottery being there. We have not seen a single case of the retail lottery business being negatively impacted by a lottery launching online.”

This has been true of iLottery in Europe, and in each state in which it becomes legal. Liz Siver, the former General Manager at NeoPollard Interactive, which powers the Michigan, Virginia, and New Hampshire lotteries, said, “The awareness and new player acquisition provided for by iLottery lifts the overall lottery brand and drives sales to both channels.”

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