Massachusetts Lottery Cries Poor

The opening of a casino in Plainfield has impacted lottery sales, claims the state lottery commission. It’s a challenge to the agency charged with maintaining sales while casinos are introduced in Massachusetts.

State lottery sales have been impacted by casino gaming in the month since Plainridge Park Casino opened. The lottery has been closely monitoring sales at locations within a 15-minute drive of the casino that sell lottery tickets.

According to Interim Executive Director Michael Sweeney, “We are still seeing strong numbers at retail agents such as convenience stores and gas stations that carry our products. Where we’re seeing some early decreases in that zone are in more of your restaurant, bar, lounge-type of places.” He added, “In that particular region within a 15-minute radius drive, lottery sales are positive but they’re not at the same level of strength as the area immediately outside of there.”

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, whose office is responsible for the lottery, has been warning that the lottery could be negatively impacted as the state’s casinos continue to open.

At a meeting of the Lottery Commission last week she declared, “When I’m watching television and I see Plainridge’s ad, I cringe. But when the big-branded names come in and they really start to throw those ad dollars behind it, that’s when we really need to pay attention.”

She says the data the lottery is collecting could justify asking the state for a larger advertising allocation so that the lottery can effectively compete for customers. “In terms of accessing increased capital from the Legislature, we’re going to have to show them data that we are being impacted. That’s why we are monitoring Plainridge very, very carefully, because it will give us initial data that we can access and then move forward.”

Lottery profits are funneled to municipalities in the Bay State. In the just completed fiscal year the Lottery estimates that it will be able to pay out $983.5 million to local government.