Mass. Lottery could handle sports betting and online gambling, says Goldberg


New Hampshire, one of 11 states that offer online lottery games, earned more than $1.3 million in revenue from online sales in its first 12 weeks.

In Massachusetts, where the lottery is not online but consumers can wager on horse racing online and over the phone, a racing licensee reported more than $90 million in such wagers in 2016.

Treasurer Deb Goldberg presented those statistics to lawmakers on Tuesday, again calling on them to allow the state lottery to move online to attract new customers and continue to generate revenue for local aid in the face of competition from daily fantasy sports, casinos and the potential to legalize sports betting.

“This is an operating company that needs to modernize, and what we’re seeing around the world is a cannibalization of sales and the disruption the internet is causing to brick-and-mortar businesses,” Goldberg told House members. and Senate Ways and Designates committees that assess lottery revenue as a foundation for the state’s annual budget. “And in particular, there’s only a certain amount of entertainment dollars in total, so the lottery was a predictable and great business for a very long time, but it had no competition.”

The landscape has changed, Goldberg said, again reminding lawmakers of the changes happening elsewhere.

A quarter of the 44 states that operate their own lotteries offer online gaming, including New Hampshire which started in September. She said she expects more states to follow suit.

A slot parlor and full casino have opened in Massachusetts, with another casino planning to open in June, and Governor Charlie Baker in January introduced a bill that would legalize sports betting in Massachusetts and would allow state casinos and online-only operators like DraftKings and FanDuel to take bets on internet platforms.

“I think the sports betting is going to be this session. When the sports betting is going to be, when the daily fantasy sports are going to be, if we don’t have the online lottery, we definitely need to advertise more,” Goldberg said. .

Senator Michael Brady asked Goldberg about the Lottery’s advertising budget, saying Baker’s plan “doesn’t offer enough” in this area.

Baker’s budget recommends funding the Lottery advertising item at $4.5 million in fiscal year 2020, the same amount allocated this year.

She said the lottery “could use an increase in our advertising budget”, pointing to sports betting, daily fantasy sports and the Everett Casino which is slated to open later this year. The casino, Encore Boston Harbor, was originally called Wynn Boston Harbor, but the company Wynn Resorts changed its name after founder Steve Wynn left amid sexual assault allegations.

“I’ll be blunt,” Goldberg said. “It was great to hear that the Wynn brand wouldn’t be on any billboards anymore – because you’re fighting brand image – and that a more obscure name would be used. Literally, I’m thinking of things that small in terms of our ability to deliver.”

Earlier today, House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz asked Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan if he thought legalizing sports betting would affect other sources of revenue for games.

Heffernan said sports betting is “very symbiotic with physical gaming facilities because it drives people to those facilities to play other games, spend money on drinks and entertainment.”

“It’s also a different demographic, in our view, than what traditionally plays the lottery,” he said. “We support the Treasurer’s move to online lottery. It seems like it’s a different demographic than people who gamble in sports betting, so we think it’s not a reallocation of the same cake, it actually increases the revenue pie for the state against the cannibalization of another form of gambling.”

Baker’s bill would give oversight of sports betting to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which would review license applicants and enforce consumer protections, such as prohibiting anyone under 21 from placing a bet. Some states that have legalized sports betting place it under the supervision of their lotteries.

Goldberg, after giving his testimony, said who oversees sports betting here would ultimately be a matter for lawmakers, but that the Lottery would be “fully capable of handling it.”

“If the Legislature, as it goes through its process, and it will be quite a complex process, wants sports betting to be part of the Massachusetts State Lottery, we would be willing to work with them. to perform properly, and we would, I believe, do just fine,” she told the News Service.

Colin A. Young contributed reporting


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