Massachusetts Looks To Take Lottery Online

  • Massachusetts lottery leaders hope for online gaming because the date is showing how much the coronavirus pandemic has impacted to annual revenue
  • Even though individuals in the state spend the most on lottery tickets, the profit has lowered by $195 million from 2019
  • There have been steps to move to a cashless operation but state residents are waiting for a bill to allow for them to take part in the lottery online.

DORCHESTER, Mass - Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional brick-and-mortar state lottery have suffered and according to the Massachusetts Lottery Director Michael Sweeney they are at “a significant threat of becoming somewhat obsolete”

At the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission meeting at the end of May, Sweeney expressed his desire for Massachusetts to have (*online state lottery in the very near future.

“Technology, as much as it was increasing previously, has really, in a lot of people’s estimates, moved forward three to five years in the course of three months,” Sweeney said about the pandemic.

In April, the net profit of the Massachusetts lottery was a total of $71.6 million last month which compared to last year’s April profit is a loss of $22.5 million.

The 2019 fiscal year was the Bay State’s best year in profit so 2020 was a huge turn in the opposite direction. Before the shutdowns caused by the virus, the profit was already down by $7.5 million compared to 2019.

The revenue through April has the current fiscal year down by over $195 million for where it was last year at that time.

“The lost revenue to the Lottery is permanently lost revenue,” said William McNamara, Comptroller of the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission. He explains how the lottery’s profit and revenue is set up differently from businesses like retail stores, “When a lottery sale is lost, it doesn’t come back. You don’t get to make it up in August.”

In Massachusetts, the average adult spends $926.71 a year and loses $258.19 on the lottery. With this, Massachusetts’ residents spend more per person on lottery tickets than any other state in the country.

Lawmakers have been urged to move to a cashless lottery system and have taken some steps by processing prizes up to $50,000 by mail. This allows for a contactless transfer also, which is necessary for the current state of the country.

In June 2019, there was a standalone bill (H 37) filed to create online lottery options but it did not advance in the legislature. However, the amount of loss to the industry could cause a push a similar bill to reappear.

Massachusetts hopes to join the states that have online lotteries including Pennsylvania who recently hit over $1 billion in online sales.