Massachusetts Lottery Chief Takes Stand Against Online Sports Betting, Calls for iLottery Expansion


Mark Bracken, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Lottery, has taken a bold stand against a rising challenger – online sports betting. He has urged state legislators to extend the lottery’s reach to the digital sphere, where it can adapt and compete in an era increasingly dominated by online markets.

As head of the Massachusetts Lottery Commission, Bracken sits at the helm of the state’s lottery affairs which have recently been infringed upon by the sudden advent of online sports betting in the Bay State since March 2023.

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“We’re the last gambling hold out … to be able to go online,” Bracken pointed out during a recent lottery commission meeting. “Someone who is able to sit [at home] and play sports betting — that’s a major concern for us. A lottery player is not able to do the same.”

His call to action not only invites change but also suggests an unexpected transformation – an online lottery game where players aged 18 and above, located within Massachusetts, could try their luck. After all, 11 other states like Delaware, Georgia, Illinois among others have already expanded their games to the World Wide Web, so why shouldn’t they follow suit?

Bracken’s vision was initially met with criticism when it was first proposed. Traditional brick-and-mortar lottery retailers in the state voiced robust opposition to this idea of an iLottery. Yet, he remains undeterred, stating his argument backed not just with concern but also with the prospect of benefit.

He claims this digital growth would not only secure the state lottery’s future but could also help maximize its benefits. Revenues from the lottery primarily support cities and towns through unrestricted local aid. Since its inception in March 1972, the Massachusetts Lottery has raised a staggering $28 billion for community initiatives.

Bracken further argues that the convenience and accessibility offered by the state’s seven online sportsbooks have lured some lottery players away. In his opinion, online instant scratch-off games could woo these players back into the fold.

The year 2023 was a testament to the power and resilience of the Massachusetts Lottery, with a record net profit of nearly $1.2 billion. However, that was a time when online sports betting had not yet reared its head. The real test lies in the future, with the fiscal year 2024 poised to reveal the true extent of online sports betting’s impact on the lottery.

Adding to the complexity is the proposed acquisition of lottery courier service Jackpocket by Boston-based DraftKings. The $750 million deal, expected to close in the second half of 2024, allows lottery players to place bets using a courier, with a 7% commission on account deposits.

Draftkings plans to use this venture to subtly nudge lottery players into the world of sports betting. This development could add to the challenges faced by traditional lottery retailers, reiterating the urgent need to digitize the lottery according to Bracken’s proposal.

As the push for an online lottery in Massachusetts intensifies, all eyes are on the state legislature. Will they approve the move, ushering the Massachusetts Lottery into a new age? Or will tradition prevail over innovation? Only time will tell.