Online Lottery Seemingly A Matter Of When, Not If, In Massachusetts
Could Massachusetts soon have an online lottery presence?
It seems like a logical next step, according to Massachusetts State Lottery Interim Executive Director Mark William Bracken. In fact, it’s a step that’s been in the making for quite some time.
“The Mass Lottery has been pursuing online lottery for over a decade,” Bracken told Play MA in an email.
Online sports betting leads push for online lottery
So why is there a sudden push for an online lottery in Massachusetts? Look no further than the recent legalization of online sports betting in Massachusetts.
The online sports betting industry went live in the Bay State on March 10, a little more than a month after the retail sector came into effect at the end of January. And it’s proven to be a bettor favorite so far.
The goal, according to Bracken, is to keep things equal. “The introduction of online sports betting poses the most formidable challenge to the Lottery to date and it is critical that we afford the ability to compete on a level playing field.”
Gov. Maura Healey supports the idea
Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey spoke with reporters about a week ago, expressing her concern with the lottery not being able to keep up with its competitors.
“We have casinos in the state,” she said. “We also have DraftKings here in the state and a lot of money is being spent there by a lot of people. What we also have is a lottery system that right now isn’t being able to compete against a DraftKings.”
In Massachusetts’ first month of online sports betting, DraftKings reigned supreme. The operator claimed the top spot with a handle of $257.6 million in March. That equates to a 47% share of the market.
DraftKings’ in-state popularity makes sense. The sportsbook was founded in Massachusetts and is headquartered in Boston.
“Nothing against DraftKings, but the lottery, that’s money coming back to cities and towns,” Healey said. “The money spent on DraftKings is going to DraftKings.”
Other states with an online lottery
A number of states offer online lottery services. Those states include New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, among others.
An online lottery seems like a win-win for the state. Massachusetts residents would gain the ability to play their favorite games from the comfort of their own homes.
At the same time, with more dollars going into the lottery, the more money goes back into the state.
How the online lottery could co-exist with online sports betting
Bracken said the lottery does not oppose mobile sports betting. In fact, he said the lottery “welcomes fair and healthy competition.”
Currently, the state boasts six sportsbooks: DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, WynnBET, and Barstool Sportsbook.
Online sports betting dominated in March. Massachusetts residents wagered $548.1 million through their mobile devices on sports from March 10-31. That resulted in $45.6 million in revenue. In turn, Massachusetts received a little more than $9 million from taxes.
Nevertheless, Bracken doesn’t believe the sports betting industry would interfere with an online lottery. “While there is crossover among consumers, traditional lottery, iLottery, casino games, fantasy sports and sports betting all have their own nuances that appeal to consumers in a different fashion and all can be successful.”
Lottery economic impact on Massachusetts
There’s no question that the Massachusetts State Lottery is profitable. Last fiscal year, the lottery eclipsed $1 billion in profit.
Specifically, the lottery announced $1.105 billion in profit during FY2022. It was the second straight year that it surpassed the $1 billion profit mark.
Massachusetts’ top democratic officials project online lottery revenue would climb past $200 million in the House’s 2024 fiscal year budget.
And funds from the hypothetical online lottery would go toward a good cause, too.
“Revenue from iLottery is intended to provide grants for early education and help make child care for families more accessible,” said Bracken.
He also noted that many states saw “consistent growth” of traditional lottery sales thanks to their online presence. “In Massachusetts, this would ensure that the lottery continues to be a reliable source of unrestricted local aid for cities and towns.”
Bracken told Play MA that the most important hurdle is the passing of legislation authorizing online lottery.
“There appears to be more interest in addressing the topic than ever before, and we are encouraged by the support expressed by Governor Healey and the House of Representatives.”
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