A proposal to allow the Massachusetts Lottery to sell game tickets online is akin to the Boston Bruins’ and Celtics’ 2022-23 playoff runs; both have come to a sudden end. Last week, the Massachusetts Senate voted to reject a budget measure that would have authorized online sales of lottery tickets.
Like the Bruins and Celtics in the 2023-24 season, proponents of online lottery sales will have opportunities to try again. Those efforts could occur much sooner than Boston’s teams will start their next runs at NBA and NHL championships.
Massachusetts Senate puts online lottery plan on ice
According to the State House News Service, an attempt to interject online lottery sales legalization into the budget for Massachusetts for the next fiscal year will not move forward. At least not at this time, anyway.
The Senate bundled the proposal from Sen. Paul Feeney with several other amendments to the budget bill and then voted them all down at once on Tuesday. There was no discussion preceding that vote. For that reason, there is no official comment on why the Senate has rejected the idea.
That doesn’t mean Feeney’s proposal missed its intended target like an air ball, however. Two of the three components of Massachusetts’ budget process are behind this form of lottery expansion in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts governor, House could revive online lottery issue
A similar measure was part of the budget bill that the Massachusetts House already approved. For that reason, the framework of allowing the Massachusetts Lottery to take its business online isn’t completely dead for 2023.
There will likely be many differences between the budget that the House authorized and the version the Senate ratifies. The two chambers will work out a final proposal from those two iterations before they send a unified package to Gov. Maura Healey.
Healey herself is also part of the budget negotiations as her approval is necessary to finalize any bill from the legislature. She included projected revenue from online lottery ticket sales in her work-up of the Massachusetts budget. Thus, she’s completely on board with the notion.
It’s unclear whether that issue alone would be sufficient to delay approval from Healey if the Senate insists on excluding it. The lack of discussion about the amendment suggests that the body is unified in opposition. However, it may not be a hill that senators are willing to die on when it comes to House concurrence.
Even if the budget doesn’t include this gaming expansion amendment, Feeney could file a standalone bill to legalize online sales. He would do so knowing Healey and the House are on board with that measure.
The only thing that is certain right now is that the Senate’s budget bill will not include online lottery legalization. That doesn’t mean whether that will happen this year is left to mere chance, however.