Massachusetts Lottery Executive Director Michael Sweeny said the lottery faces “a significant threat of becoming somewhat obsolete” if it not given the tools to compete—cashless interactions and online commerce—at the lottery’s commission meeting this week.
Stay-at-home orders forces lotteries to look to new channels for sales. For instance, the Rhode Island Lottery launched eInstant and online keno sales during the pandemic. The New Hampshire Lottery has legalized iLottery and sports wagering in the last two years.
“Technology, as much as it was increasing previously, has really in a lot of people’s estimates moved forward three to five year in the course of three months,” Sweeney said.
The pandemic worsens the outlook for fiscal 2020 as Massachusetts Lottery faces declining sales. The lottery’s net profit was $22.5 million in April 2020 compared to last year, Sweeney reported to the commission.
“The lost revenue to the Lottery is permanently lost revenue,” said Comptroller William McNamara, a member of the Lottery Commission. “Someone who because of this shutdown, they can delay a refrigerator purchase they might make, they might push out clothing purchases, but thinking about consumer behavior, when a lottery sale is lost, it doesn’t come back. You don’t get to make it up in August.”
Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg has championed authorizing online lottery sales and cashless lottery transactions.
“Everyone is looking for: where are we going to get revenue from?” she said. “We have to note, and I said it in the last meeting but it’s only continued, that the states that do have an online lottery have had incredible increases in sales,” said Goldberg.