Massachusetts Gaming – Will KENO Success Translate to Online Gaming?

mass lottery

Mass lottery

The Massachusetts Lottery has shown this year that it is one of the most successful lotteries in the country.

Without casinos, Massachusetts residents have had to dabble in the lottery system’s KENO offerings.  Any given day, a group of friends can be found at the bar, elbow to elbow, longtime pals, waiting for the next Keno drawing on the TV screens, as they’ve done hundreds of times before. The wait is never long. Keno drawings come every four minutes, a drumbeat of betting opportunities that make the lottery game an enduring staple of Massachusetts gambling and pub culture.

Customers play a round of keno at Daybreak Doughnuts in Bridgeport

For more information on KENO and the Lottery, check out our previous posts below:

KENO 101 

Lottery & Scratch Tickets – Exercise of Hope or Futility?

Keno — the random numbers game offered in many convenience stores and 1,200 bars and restaurants across the state — rang up $900 million in sales last fiscal year, with sales climbing 20 percent since 2010.

That makes Massachusetts the country’s leading Keno purveyor by far, accounting for almost one-quarter of all Keno sales in the United States. Only New York comes close, but even with nearly three times the population, it falls short by $90 million.

But now the Mass Lottery has its eye on a new endeavor – Online Gaming.

Online Gamer

Online Gamer

According to WGCB in Springfield, there’s a strong effort underway to bring online gaming to Massachusetts, stemming from the Massachusetts Lottery Commission which said it’s a way to reach out to a younger market.

Stephen Crosby, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission chairman, said “We need to make sure the online gaming environment is as safe and secure as the bricks and mortar environment [casinos].”  The chairman additionally observed that online gaming must be properly regulated to make sure all games are fair, that players are the proper age, and that no one is “cooking the books.”

A few states have been looking into it with a very cautious stance due to regulations and who would do the regulating.  Many states involved in the process look to the state’s Lottery to manage online gaming.  Internet gambling revenue is increasing in at least two of the three states that currently offer it – New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada,

Internet gambling revenue in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey badly missed initial forecasts, which themselves were overly aggressive,” said Chris Krafcik, research director for Gambling Compliance, which tracks gambling legislation nationwide.

Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson

The industry still faces some nagging issues, as well as looming threats – including an effort in Congress to ban Internet gambling nationwide. The Restoration of America’s Wire Act has been introduced in both chambers this year, backed by billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and could come up for a hearing next month.  With a new administration leaning more right than ever in the last ten years, and a lame duck presidency now, legislation efforts need to improve dramatically or face a possible dead end for all.

Proponents of online gaming in Massachusetts said it’s time to open a new gambling frontier , lottery games offered around the clock on mobile devices and computers.  The MGC wants to make sure the playing field is a level one when it comes to gaming.

“We want to hear from licensees to see how it affects them but trying to find a way for millennials to engage is trending online so we’ll have to see how it develops,” said Bruce Stebbins.  He referred to the heavy investments land casino operators have made in the state, and assured all concerned that the Commission does not want to undermine the local economy, and will therefore be attentive to make sure the land operators are treated fairly with the advent of the new genres of gaming technology.Daily-Fantasy-Sports


The Massachusetts Lottery Commission has already lobbied for permission to offer more online options in order to attract the younger millennial demographic so important to the future viability of the institution.  Recent reviews have indicated that a sharp decline in revenue is likely unless online products are offered as well.


In any case, a new frontier is exactly where this is going.  With the merger of FanDuel & DraftKings regarding Fantasy Sport Betting, regulations will be needed to watch for monopolies and an even playing field for all players.  But, if successful, the Massachusetts model could be the one other states follow.

Only time will tell – but time doesn’t appear to be on internet gambling’s side.






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