Gambling expansion

Massachusetts Gov. backs online lottery sales to boost revenue for state budget

Governor Maura Healey of Massachusetts.
Reading time 2:07 min

Governor Maura Healey of Massachusetts, who was once a strong opponent of expanding gambling, has announced her support for allowing the state lottery to sell its products online. This move is an attempt to "meet people where they are" and generate revenue for the state budget.

Healey's support for the measure aligns her with the Massachusetts House, where Democratic leaders have proposed expanding the Lottery online and using the hundreds of millions of dollars it could generate to help underwrite the state budget plan.

Governor Maura Healey of Massachusetts

During her regular appearance on GBH's "Boston Public Radio," host Jim Braude cited research that showed low-income residents predominantly play the Lottery. When asked whether she supports the move, Healey appeared to nod to her evolution on the issue. "You're going to be shocked to hear this, Jim, but I do," said Healey, as reported by The Boston Globe, who opposed casino gambling when she first ran for attorney general in 2014.

"But here's what's happened: We have casinos in this state. We also have DraftKings here in the state. A lot of money is being spent there by a lot of people. And we also have a Lottery system that right now isn't able to compete against DraftKings," the governor added.

"Nothing against DraftKings. But the Lottery, that's money coming back to cities and towns," Healey added, according to the above-mentioned media. "The money spent on DraftKings is going to DraftKings. . . . I say this as somebody who really was skeptical about the whole thing. But I think it's important for us to catch up there and meet people where they are."

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg has repeatedly pushed to move the Lottery online, and lawmakers have passed previous versions of such a proposal, though the chambers have never reached an agreement on language to send to the governor's desk.

The House recently unveiled a budget bill that would allow the Lottery to sell its products online and use $200 million of revenue generated by that change to help fund increased spending on grants to child care providers known as Commonwealth Cares for Children funding, or "C3" grants. 

Healey's stance is part of a gradual softening of her opposition to allowing gambling. In March 2022, she said she supported legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts at a time when lawmakers were still considering legislation, saying it "is the way now."

It is worth mentioning that last month, more than 400,000 mobile sports betting accounts were activated in Massachusetts as the activity went live. Additionally, more than 8 million transactions took place, making the Bay State the fifth busiest mobile wagering state in the country last weekend, as per data from geolocation and fraud detection services company GeoComply

Based on Commonwealth officials’ estimates of annualized tax revenue of $60 million, Massachusetts would add about $5.4 million to the Public Health Trust Fund, which largely supports responsible gambling programs. While in-person betting began at the end of January, mobile betting is expected to quickly become the main form of sports betting and further drive tax revenue to the state.

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