Massachusetts lawmakers have for years been dithering and debating over the legalisation of online lottery and gambling activity, frustrating repeated attempts to get legalisation through the Legislature, and the news that neighbouring New Hampshire may be starting moves in this direction should be a wake-up call for Massachusetts politicians.
This is the warning that lottery and state officials sounded at a meeting of the Massachusetts Lottery Commission Tuesday.
State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, long a supporter of taking lottery activity online, said that Keno had carried the enterprise for the last two years and expressed her frustration that efforts to take the lottery online had failed to gain political traction.
“I think the thing they have to really look at is what drove the profit last year. Keno, for the last two years, we’ve beefed up sales, and it has helped carry the ball,” she said. “To have (New Hampshire) be able to do a double hit – which is online and Keno – and we’re sitting here like dead ducks.”
Lottery executive director Michael Sweeney agreed, noting:
“We’re facing a lot of different types of pressure as a lottery and New Hampshire being more aggressive and receiving more empowerment from their state legislature will have an impact on us, and clearly a negative impact as revenue goes.”
Sweeney was referring to recent moves toward online gambling and the recent approval of online ticket sales and Keno by New Hampshire, and observed that six of the Massachusetts Lottery’s top 10 Keno retailers are within 10 miles of the New Hampshire border.
Lottery Comptroller Thomas Shack summed up the situation and the need for Massachusetts to go online with products like scratch tickets, draw games, Keno and more, saying:
“I don’t know how much clearer a message we need to send the Legislature relative to this issue. It’s become one of those things that we’ve said ad nauseum at this point and now we’re starting to see, literally, the troops on the borders of Massachusetts.
“This has a potential devastating effect on the Lottery, and it’s going to be profound, and cities and towns are going to be the ultimate recipients of that downturn. I hope the Legislature is listening.”