Massachusetts Lottery Claims Sportsbooks Have Priced Them Out Of TV Ad Market

Written By C.J. Pierre on December 6, 2023 - Last Updated on December 8, 2023
A picture of a man kicking through a door for a story about the MA lottery being forced out of TV ads by sportsbooks

The Massachusetts sports betting industry is thriving right now. So much so that the state’s lottery is claiming sportsbooks have priced them out of the TV advertising market.

Since the launch of MA sports betting, Bay State sportsbooks have taken over $3.6 billion, generating $361.7 million in taxable revenue for the state.

In strong sports betting markets, operators spend a ton on advertising. The proof is in the pudding, with ads for sports betting sites flooding our TV screens.

That’s not only impacting customers but also on local organizations like the Massachusetts Lottery. The leader of the MA Lottery says sports betting is pushing his organization out of the TV ad market. In other words, there will be fewer commercials about scratch-offs this holiday season.

MA Lottery handcuffed by limited advertising budget

The Massachusetts Lottery has run a television ad for years as part of its holiday sales campaign. However, things will be different this year, with lottery officials saying they can’t afford the TV time.

Lottery executive director Mark William Bracken told a Springfield TV station that advertising costs have increased now that sports betting companies are heavily advertising to attract gamblers to their platforms. This means folks won’t see as many Massachusetts Lottery holiday ads on TV as Massachusetts sports betting operators continue to drive up the cost of doing business higher and higher.

“The sports betting market has kind of just raised the bar and the amount of money that’s being spent, said Bracken. “So it adversely affects all other advertisers, because the costs for products go up.”

Bracken also says the about-face on TV ads is due to the legislature’s relatively limited advertising budget for the state lottery. It’s something Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg is trying to rectify.

At a recent tax revenue hearing, Goldberg spoke to lawmakers about giving the Lottery more money to advertise. She said the Massachusetts Lottery is on track to turn a profit of $1.02 billion this fiscal year. With projected flat sales, it will generate the same amount in fiscal year 2025.

That $1.02 billion profit figure would represent a drop of about 14% from the record $1.19 billion set in fiscal 2023. Both Bracken and Goldberg are hoping to get more help from the House and Senate if they want the Lottery to continue churning out money for aid to cities and towns.

MA Lottery also priced out of the Celtics’ Heroes Among Us program

It’s not just TV advertising time that is getting more expensive. It is getting more pricey for the Lottery to have its name attached to certain initiatives.

The Lottery is no longer the presenting sponsor of the Boston Celtics’ annual ‘Heroes Among Us’ program. Bracken says the Celtics jacked up the price to maintain that sponsorship this season and that number ended up being too high for the Lottery.

“Boston Celtics close to tripled that sponsorship this year, and we could no longer afford it, because they know they can get a sports betting company to come in and pay triple what we were paying,” said Bracken. “So we’re being pushed out of the market in many, many ways.”

The Boston Celtics’ Heroes Among Us program is one of the premier community outreach programs in professional sports and honors individuals who have made an overwhelming impact in the community and on the lives of others. At each home game, the team and its fans honor a recipient with an in-game presentation on the legendary parquet floor. The program has honored more than 1,000 people.

Currently, the program is sponsored by IBEW Local 103, radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub, and NBC Sports Boston. No sports betting operator is affiliated with the program. Lottery officials say they agreed to a $121,000 contract with the Celtics in 2011 to support the program. It came with branding benefits, with the Celtics promoting the Lottery’s products at each home game.

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C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at PlayMA. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career. Most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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