BOSTON (State House News Service) — Three years ago, Treasurer Deborah Goldberg declared that "if sports betting is available online, the Lottery must be available online also." But now with a sports betting bill awaiting the governor's signature, the idea of online Lottery sales remains hung up in the Legislature.
It appeared a few weeks ago as if the Legislature was prepared to move ahead to both legalize sports betting and allow the Lottery to sell its products over the internet. Citing increased competition for gambling dollars from casinos, daily fantasy sports and sports betting, Goldberg has been asking for that power for years. The House version of the economic development bill includes language that would remove the prohibition that prevents the Massachusetts Lottery from selling most of its products online, an addition that Goldberg cheered.
But paralyzed by the revelation that nearly $3 billion in tax relief could be required by law and unsure how to proceed with separate tax relief measures, the House and Senate did not produce a final economic development bill by the end of July, imperiling everything else contained in the branches' packages, like online Lottery authorization.
"I am pleased that the Legislature explored new ways to generate sustainable revenue for the state this session. With sports betting set to go online, I hope to work with the Legislature to hold the Lottery harmless," Goldberg said Friday. "Should members come back this fall to finalize the Economic Development Bill, I encourage them to allow the Lottery to offer products online. We are prepared to implement a safe and reliable iLottery with the ability to produce significant, additional dollars for the state, possibly even exceeding the earnings from sports betting."
House and Senate leaders have said they plan to "pick away" at the spending and policies initiatives included in the two economic development bills throughout the remainder of 2022. Aside from the bonding that would have been authorized in the bills, any of the other provisions can still be passed during informal sessions but the objection of just a single lawmaker is enough to derail any action.
Written by Colin Young/SHNS.