Massachusetts Lottery Benefiting From Plainridge Park, But MGM Springfield Presents Concerns

Posted on: August 20, 2018, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: August 20, 2018, 11:16h.

The Massachusetts Lottery is a $5 billion a year business, and the state official responsible for counting money from the games says the expansion of commercial casino gambling hasn’t cannibalized revenues.

Massachusetts Lottery MGM Springfield
State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg believes the opening of MGM Springfield will have no impact on the Massachusetts Lottery. (Image: Matt West/Boston Herald/Boston Globe/

When the state passed its Expanded Gaming Act in 2011, Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg voiced concerns on whether the three full-fledged casinos and slots parlor facility authorized in the legislation would hurt the lottery. She estimated that sales could drop as much as 10 percent.

The state legislature tried to offset any impact the casinos would have by mandating in the bill that the gambling venues house lottery kiosks. At Plainridge Park, the slots-only casino that was the first casino to open in the state back in June 2015, has only helped grow the lottery.

Goldberg says now the casinos “will not harm the Lottery in any way.” She added to the Boston Herald, “I’m cautiously optimistic. But I never count any money until it’s in.”

The Massachusetts Lottery provided more than $1 billion in local aid to communities last year.

Springfield Opening

Plainridge Park sold $3.6 million worth of lottery tickets in 2017, ranking it No. 61 out of the state’s roughly 7,500 retail locations. Last year saw lottery sales surge 50 percent at the casino.

But slots players at Plainridge might represent a different demographic than those who initially visit the $960 million MGM Springfield. The integrated resort opens Thursday, August 24.

“I would probably say the typical person who’s going to go to MGM, at least at the beginning, is going to be a little more well off than Plainridge,” Boston College Professor Rev. Richard McGowan explained.

The MGM property has six lottery kiosks in the casino, and tickets can also be purchased at the resort’s gift shop. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), as it did with Plainridge, will study the Springfield casino’s impact on the lottery.

The MGC concluded in March 2017 that Plainridge hadn’t negatively affected lottery revenue. In fact, it did just the opposite.

Lottery Evolution

Goldberg says she plans to file regulations early next year when the state legislature returns to session that would allow the lottery to operate online games.

“I believe that is something we must do to stay with the 21st century,” Goldberg explained. “We will need to modernize the Lottery to stay in step.”

Goldberg hopes the legislature will act quick on authorizing internet lottery games. She points to the fact that communities around the state rely heavily on the aid that comes from the lottery to support various programs.

“We’re always reminding the Legislature they need to keep cities and towns in mind,” Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke said. “We rely greatly on this revenue.”

Sports betting, specifically mobile wagering, also presents concerns to the lottery, Goldenberg added. Massachusetts lawmakers didn’t introduce sports betting legislation following the US Supreme Court’s repeal of the federal ban in May, but are expected to when they reconvene in January.