Massachusetts State Treasurer Deb Goldberg’s all in for online lottery

in Lottery

“I have maintained that if sports betting comes to Massachusetts, we must have a seat at the table,” said Massachusetts State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, who sent a bill legalizing an online Massachusetts State Lottery to state lawmakers last week. Legislators will review the bill in the new session starting in January.

State Treasurer Deb Goldberg is in a high-stakes horserace to expand the state’s profitable lottery online as Beacon Hill lawmakers appear ready to legalize yet another gaming competitor — popular sports betting on teams like the New England Patriots.

The scramble comes as the first legalized sports betting in New England is set to open today in Rhode Island at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln.

“I have maintained that if sports betting comes to Massachusetts, we must have a seat at the table,” said Goldberg, who sent a bill legalizing an online Massachusetts State Lottery to state lawmakers last week. Legislators will review the bill in the new session starting in January.

“This session I will continue to work with the Legislature for the authorization to sell products online to ensure modernization and growth of the Lottery,” said Goldberg, who filed similar legislation for the past two sessions.

Beacon Hill lawmakers are expected to pass legislation on sports betting in the next two years, said Sen. Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow). The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May that states can offer a legal sports book.

“I would expect this coming session we would do something,” said Lesser, who co-chairs the committee that oversees gambling bills. “It would definitely be a shot in the arm for the state’s economy.”

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission released a report earlier this year estimating that sports betting could bring in $61 million a year. Other states like New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia and Mississippi already gave sports betting the green light.

Gambling on the Boston Celtics or Bruins would add yet another form of legalized gambling in Massachusetts, where daily fantasy sports and casinos are already allowed. The MGM Springfield casino opened in August, and officials expect Encore Boston Harbor to open next year.

But Goldberg has long warned that new forms of legalized gambling would hurt the state’s lottery, which pulled in nearly $1 billion this year.

And some lawmakers agree.

“It’s impossible to envision the lottery surviving without going online,” said Lesser, who emphasized that he was speaking only for himself. “Personally I think with safeguards that an online lottery makes sense. We have a strong lottery that pays well, and we don’t want to jeopardize that.”

Lottery profits are earmarked exclusively to fund the Bay State’s cities and towns, a rare cash source that directly impacts lawmakers’ constituents. But despite the lottery’s high political payout, Lesser remained uncertain about Goldberg’s bill.

“We’ll see what happens in the next term,” he said.

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/hillary_chabot/2018/11/deb_goldberg_s_all_in_for_online_lottery