BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS)–The Senate on Tuesday rejected a proposal to authorize online Lottery, setting up a closed-doors fight with House negotiators over the latest proposed expansion of gambling.
In the first hour of debate on their fiscal year 2024 budget, senators shot down an amendment from Sen. Paul Feeney that would have allowed the Massachusetts Lottery to offer its products online. No one spoke about Feeney’s amendment before the vote. Senate leaders wove the measure alongside 90 other amendments into a bundle that senators rejected with a single voice vote.
The House in its budget authorized an “iLottery” system and called for all new revenue from online Lottery sales to be directed toward Commonwealth Cares for Children, or C3, grants to early education and care providers. House Democrats estimate the measure could generate $200 million in revenue for the strained early education and care sector.
Feeney’s amendment would have steered revenue from an online Lottery to cities and towns, who already receive funding from in-person Lottery sales, as well as to the Massachusetts School Business Authority and special education programs.
Supporters of moving the Lottery onto digital platforms also include Gov. Maura Healey and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who argues the change would allow state-run offerings to compete with mobile sports betting that has exploded in popularity since its launch.
Senators on Tuesday morning also adopted 101 amendments with a single voice vote, all categorized as dealing with the environment, government and economic development. It was not clear how much spending the amendment bundle added to the budget’s bottom line.
Senate Democrats for weeks have referred to their budget bill as a $55.8 billion proposal, but Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Michael Rodrigues on Monday said it “recommends a total of $55.55 billion in spending.” A committee spokesperson said Tuesday that the budget proposes $55.5 billion in “line-item spending” and $55.8 billion when accounting for “trust fund accounts” dealing with early education and behavioral health.