Governor Maura Healey, once a staunch opponent of expanding gambling, said Friday that she supports allowing the state Lottery to sell its products online in an attempt to “meet people where they are.”
Healey’s embrace of a measure that has long idled on Beacon Hill aligns her with the Massachusetts House, where Democratic leaders again proposed expanding the Lottery online this week and using hundreds of millions of dollars it could generate to help underwrite its state budget plan.
The topic emerged during Healey’s regular appearance on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio.” Host Jim Braude cited research he said shows that low-income residents predominantly play the Lottery. When asked whether she supports the move, Healey appeared to nod to her evolution on the issue.
“You’re going to be shocked to hear this, Jim, but I do,” said the Cambridge Democrat, who opposed casino gambling when she first ran for attorney general in 2014.
“But here’s what’s happened: We have casinos in this state. We also have DraftKings here in the state,” she said, referencing one of the state’s sports betting operators that also offers betting on mobile devices. “A lot of money is being spent there by a lot of people. And what we also have is a Lottery system that right now isn’t able to compete against a DraftKings.”
“Nothing against DraftKings. But the Lottery, that’s money coming back to cities and towns,” Healey added. “The money spent on DraftKings is going to DraftKings. . . . I say this as somebody who really was skeptical about the whole thing. But I think it’s important for us to catch up there and meet people where they are.”
State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg has repeatedly pushed to move the Lottery online, and lawmakers have passed previous versions of such a proposal, though the chambers have never reached an agreement on language to send to the governor’s desk.
The House on Wednesday unveiled a budget bill that would allow the Lottery to sell its products online, and use $200 million of revenue generated by that change to help fund increased spending on grants to child care providers known as Commonwealth Cares for Children funding, or “C3″ grants.
Healey’s stance is part of a gradual softening of her opposition to allowing gambling. In March 2022, also on “Boston Public Radio,” she said she supported legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts at a time when lawmakers were still considering legislation, saying it “is the way now.”