Gaming revenues helping Healey plug budget gap

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The steady expansion of gambling in Massachusetts opened a new and steady revenue stream for Beacon Hill, and Gov. Maura Healey, a onetime opponent of casinos, is tapping into it as part of her administration’s plan to close a $1 billion budget shortfall.

The Gaming Commission announced Tuesday that Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor in Everett generated a cumulative $103.04 million in gross gaming revenue in December, enough to produce just more than $29 million in monthly tax revenue for the state.

Sports wagering — bettors put about $658.7 million on the line on December games — yielded an additional $60.55 million in taxable revenue for the three physical sportsbooks and eight online betting platforms, and $12 million in revenue for Massachusetts.

Since casino-style gaming started here in 2015, Massachusetts has raked in $1.623 billion in taxes and assessments from casino operations.

Total casino gaming revenues for the state totaled about $330.7 million for fiscal year 2023, up from about $310 million in fiscal 2022 and $233.1 million in fiscal 2021, according to the state’s most recent information statement. And since legal sports betting started a year ago, that activity has generated $93.87 million in total taxes and assessments.

And through the first five months of fiscal year 2024, Mass. Lottery sales are up $130.8 million or 5.1% over this same point in fiscal year 2023. But the Lottery’s estimated profit of $486.1 million, which Beacon Hill eventually divides up among the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, trails last year’s mark by $13.7 million.

Healey’s administration announced last week that it was making $375 million worth of midyear budget cuts and also had identified $625 million in non-tax revenues that could now be relied upon to help close the $1 billion revenue shortfall, including an extra $75 million from the Lottery and an additional $15 million worth of gaming revenues.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said that the Healey administration was already expecting the net profit from the Lottery to land at $1.2 billion (Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Lottery officials have said they anticipate returning $1 billion in net profit, but the Lottery often outperforms their estimates).

Now, the administration’s expectation has increased by $75 million to $1.275 billion.

And with non-tax gaming revenues running ahead of fiscal 2023 collections by just $1.7 million, the Healey administration upgraded its assumption for gaming revenues from $240 million to $255 million, MTF said.

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