Online Lottery is Out of the Massachusetts FY2024 Budget

July 31, 2023
Massachusetts Package Stores Association

Westborough, MA - - - Good news to report is that a compromise over the weekend was reached within the legislature, which leaves behind the legalization of an online lottery. Member stores have been threatened all year by the establishment of a state controlled online lottery program that directly competes with them. The danger began with the filing of five House and Senate bills that authorized establishment of an online lottery. The threat metastasized when House leadership stealthily included online lottery in their fiscal year 2024 state budget, which was quickly approved unanimously with no debate. MassPack immediately jumped in with the objective of putting a stop to what seemed to be a predetermined decision by state officials.
The Senate heard and listened to MassPack’s written and oral testimony. They did not adopt a budget that included an online lottery. The result was that differences between the divergent House and Senate budgets had to be negotiated within a conference committee. That work was ongoing until this past weekend. It has concluded with an online lottery being removed from a final budget to be approved by both chambers of the legislature and by Governor Maura Healey.
MassPack has repeatedly demonstrated that there is no need for an online lottery in Massachusetts that competes against retail ticket purchasing outlets. In the fiscal year that ended June 30th, the Massachusetts Lottery brought in more revenue than ever before. Fiscal year 2023 saw the Lottery haul in $6.131 billion in sales revenue, surpassing the $6 billion mark for the first time in the Lottery's 51-year existence. This topped the previous record of $5.863 billion set in fiscal 2022 by about $268 million. Contributing to that pile were record-high scratch ticket sales ($4.043 billion) and record-high Keno sales ($1.226 billion).
Meanwhile, House leaders and lottery officials continue to argue that the expansion into online lottery is necessary because of the legislature’s legalization of sports betting. They keep saying that sports betting revenues could siphon off revenues from lottery sales. This has never happened. To make their case, proponents have resorted to using misleading information. The data the state keeps using to say the online lottery will not have any measurable impact on privately owned retail stores comes from the states of New Hampshire, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. These are control states where the state controls alcohol and lottery sales by being a retail marketplace participant. In Massachusetts, 100 percent of the retail outlets are private stores that will lose sales if there’s an online lottery. The misrepresentations were so blatant that it became necessary for MassPack to daylight them in editorials, media interviews and in testimony. Thankfully, it appears this time that facts prevailed over misrepresentations and fiction.
Sean Barry, President of MassPack and owner of Four Seasons Wine & Liquor in Hadley applauded today’s legislative development. “Removal of an online lottery threat is a big win for locally owned alcohol retail stores. The state competing against privately owned stores would have resulted in a reduction of in-store traffic. The same outcome has been occurring throughout the state due to the ban of flavored tobacco products. This is because residents now buy the banned products in Rhode Island, New York, and New Hampshire. Once again it is clear that MassPack is the only trade organization advocating for our interests.”
The Massachusetts Package Stores Association (MassPack) is a non-profit trade organization representing locally owned retail alcohol beverages stores across Massachusetts. The Board of Directors of MassPack are primarily comprised of owner/operators of retail stores of beer, wine, and spirits. Contact MassPack with any questions at (508) 366-1100, or email Visit the MassPack website at: