May 4, 2023 - Politics

Lottery officials call out Massachusetts' outdated laws

Mark Bracken, interim executive director of the lottery, sits at a table in a Massachusetts State House room while testifying during a legislative hearing.

Mark Bracken, interim executive director of the Massachusetts State Lottery, testified in support of bills to launch an online lottery and update lottery laws at a legislative hearing last month. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios

Lottery agents can go undercover to look into suspected fraud at a convenience store. But they can’t buy a lottery ticket during their probe thanks to state law.

Decades-old provisions also technically make it illegal to hold more than one lottery license, even if someone owns a chain like Stop & Shop or Cumberland Farms. But the Massachusetts State Lottery violates that law daily, says Mark Bracken, the lottery’s interim executive director.

Why it matters: While gaming enthusiasts have honed in on the prospect of an online lottery, Bracken says the state lottery system needs to modernize in more ways than one.

What’s happening: Bracken and Treasurer Deb Goldberg are pushing for an update to state provisions they say are antiquated and restrictive.

  • They’re backing a bill that would lift the licensing cap for retailers and let lottery agents buy tickets when undercover, so they don’t have to get volunteers to buy them.
  • The bill would also change the law to bar members of a government employee’s household, instead of family members, from qualifying for a lottery license.

What they’re saying: "I don't think anyone today thinks it makes any sense, but for some reason it was done 50 years ago when it first started and nothing ever changed,” Bracken tells Axios.

The big picture: Massachusetts residents spend the most per capita on lottery tickets and scratch-offs.


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