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Sell the Mass. Lottery?

Massachusetts LotteryMassachusetts Lottery: Sell the Mass. Lottery?

Editor's note: The columnist's biased language, such as "per-sucker spending" was left as-written, since this is an opinion piece.

Steve Bailey
Boston Globe

Massachusetts Treasurer Tim Cahill created a buzz last week when he proposed that the state get into the casino business before the Mashpee Wampanoags beat us to the slots. Lost in the headlines was his analysis of the future of the state's cash cow of a state lottery, which by almost every measure is the envy of the industry. In short, he said, our cow is showing her age.

"Our own lottery, while still the most successful in the nation, has reached a state of maturity such that sustainable growth is becoming increasingly challenging," Cahill said. And he ticked off a litany of trends working against the lottery: casinos all around us, the growth of online gambling, and a view among younger people who see the lottery as their "parents game."

"Like many products and brands before us (for example: 8-track tapes, video rentals, Sears), the lottery is in danger of losing its share of wallet and mind," Cahill said. Still one fat wallet, though, with sales last year of $4.5 billion. (Consider: Massachusetts' per-sucker spending on the lottery was $699 last year. New York was second at $336; the national average was $183.)

Cahill didn't say it, but what he was describing is precisely the model — mature businesses with strong cash flows — that private equity investors are lusting to buy these days. If it takes off nationally, lottery privatization is a game that Massachusetts can't lose on.

With the explosion of money into private equity and state government strapped for cash, the sale of public infrastructure like highways, bridges, and airports is one of the hot new frontiers of investing. (See Business Week's cover story last month. ) Investment bankers like anything that generates big fees, but of all the potential privatization plays, lotteries make the most sense. The reason: Roads and bridges are the kind of basic services governments are supposed to provide; lotteries are simply businesses run by government. And innately distasteful businesses at that, dependent on persuading those who can afford it least to spend ever more on scratch tickets. Our good government in action!

A number of states are exploring privatizing their lotteries. Illinois, the most advanced along the process, thinks it can raise $10 billion or more by leasing its lottery. Among the many interested bidders: Thomas H. Lee Partners, the Boston buyout firm. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed turning the lottery over to a private operator. Texas, New Jersey, Indiana, and Maryland have considered it, too.

What could the Massachusetts lottery be worth? The way to find out is to put it out to bid, says Eugene Christiansen, chairman of Christiansen Capital Advisors, the Maine consulting firm Cahill hired to study the state's lottery. Based on 2005 revenue, the firm valued the Massachusetts' lottery at $11.2 billion. In an interview, Christiansen said a deal could be structured to assure the state would receive no less in up-front and continuing payments than the current $950 million annually that goes to cities and towns, and probably more.

"The level of interest is high, " says Christiansen. "I don't see a downside if done right."

Hype or reality? We won't know unless we look. Massachusetts' very success could work against us for now. Buyers are looking for underperforming assets, and there is lower-hanging fruit to be picked elsewhere. But if other states go first, at big premiums, Massachusetts' lottery, with its huge cash flows, could fetch a substantial price and get government out of this sleazy business at the same time.

Neither the governor's office nor the treasurer's office would come close to this topic; both declined to comment.

My big questions:

Could a financially attractive deal be structured, and at what price?

Maybe even more important, would you trust these guys on Beacon Hill with all that dough?

Boston Globe

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6 comments. Last comment 10 years ago by irondoor827.
Page 1 of 1
Avatar

United States
Member #10438
January 13, 2005
431 Posts
Offline
Posted: June 1, 2007, 1:04 pm - IP Logged

wont go to any casino mass lottery opens  since some lottery games they have are suspect in my opinon.. mass cash and the pick 4 in particular are suspect  playin many  lottery games  somthing about those 2 games isn't right  when over time i get more hits on a pick 6/46 and 5/56 than a 5/35 somthings afoul

    BabyJC's avatar - Lottery-031.jpg

    United States
    Member #3271
    January 7, 2004
    148 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: June 1, 2007, 4:40 pm - IP Logged

    Cod - I've always wondered about Mass Cash.  Every drawing when there are no winners, which is frequently, shouldn't the money roll over?  They don't roll it, so where does it go?  It seems logical that there should be higher jackpot prizes for the next drawing.  Also, whenever there is multiple winners (say around 8), they end up cutting the jackpot prize to around $67,000 per ticket (instead of 100k).  Use that extra money that you don't roll over to honor the 100k prize!

    ΩΩΩSmiley

      Avatar

      United States
      Member #52552
      May 29, 2007
      55 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: June 2, 2007, 12:44 am - IP Logged

      wont go to any casino mass lottery opens  since some lottery games they have are suspect in my opinon.. mass cash and the pick 4 in particular are suspect  playin many  lottery games  somthing about those 2 games isn't right  when over time i get more hits on a pick 6/46 and 5/56 than a 5/35 somthings afoul

      Conmander....Lmfao@that post of your's comon we talking about Taxachusetts here. Green laugh

        Avatar

        United States
        Member #10438
        January 13, 2005
        431 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: June 2, 2007, 5:22 pm - IP Logged

        rollsover allright  right  into the  governor's pocketMad

          Avatar

          United States
          Member #52552
          May 29, 2007
          55 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: June 2, 2007, 8:38 pm - IP Logged

          Some one has to pay for CoupeDevalls Toys!

          Scared


            United States
            Member #51688
            April 19, 2007
            200 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: June 3, 2007, 7:35 am - IP Logged

            Editor's note: The columnist's biased language, such as "per-sucker spending" was left as-written, since this is an opinion piece.

            Steve Bailey
            Boston Globe

            Massachusetts Treasurer Tim Cahill created a buzz last week when he proposed that the state get into the casino business before the Mashpee Wampanoags beat us to the slots. Lost in the headlines was his analysis of the future of the state's cash cow of a state lottery, which by almost every measure is the envy of the industry. In short, he said, our cow is showing her age.

            "Our own lottery, while still the most successful in the nation, has reached a state of maturity such that sustainable growth is becoming increasingly challenging," Cahill said. And he ticked off a litany of trends working against the lottery: casinos all around us, the growth of online gambling, and a view among younger people who see the lottery as their "parents game."

            "Like many products and brands before us (for example: 8-track tapes, video rentals, Sears), the lottery is in danger of losing its share of wallet and mind," Cahill said. Still one fat wallet, though, with sales last year of $4.5 billion. (Consider: Massachusetts' per-sucker spending on the lottery was $699 last year. New York was second at $336; the national average was $183.)

            Cahill didn't say it, but what he was describing is precisely the model — mature businesses with strong cash flows — that private equity investors are lusting to buy these days. If it takes off nationally, lottery privatization is a game that Massachusetts can't lose on.

            With the explosion of money into private equity and state government strapped for cash, the sale of public infrastructure like highways, bridges, and airports is one of the hot new frontiers of investing. (See Business Week's cover story last month. ) Investment bankers like anything that generates big fees, but of all the potential privatization plays, lotteries make the most sense. The reason: Roads and bridges are the kind of basic services governments are supposed to provide; lotteries are simply businesses run by government. And innately distasteful businesses at that, dependent on persuading those who can afford it least to spend ever more on scratch tickets. Our good government in action!

            A number of states are exploring privatizing their lotteries. Illinois, the most advanced along the process, thinks it can raise $10 billion or more by leasing its lottery. Among the many interested bidders: Thomas H. Lee Partners, the Boston buyout firm. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed turning the lottery over to a private operator. Texas, New Jersey, Indiana, and Maryland have considered it, too.

            What could the Massachusetts lottery be worth? The way to find out is to put it out to bid, says Eugene Christiansen, chairman of Christiansen Capital Advisors, the Maine consulting firm Cahill hired to study the state's lottery. Based on 2005 revenue, the firm valued the Massachusetts' lottery at $11.2 billion. In an interview, Christiansen said a deal could be structured to assure the state would receive no less in up-front and continuing payments than the current $950 million annually that goes to cities and towns, and probably more.

            "The level of interest is high, " says Christiansen. "I don't see a downside if done right."

            Hype or reality? We won't know unless we look. Massachusetts' very success could work against us for now. Buyers are looking for underperforming assets, and there is lower-hanging fruit to be picked elsewhere. But if other states go first, at big premiums, Massachusetts' lottery, with its huge cash flows, could fetch a substantial price and get government out of this sleazy business at the same time.

            Neither the governor's office nor the treasurer's office would come close to this topic; both declined to comment.

            My big questions:

            Could a financially attractive deal be structured, and at what price?

            Maybe even more important, would you trust these guys on Beacon Hill with all that dough?

            Smells  like  politics  and  big  business  sleeping  in  the  same  bed  and  having  the  tax payer  foot  the  bill ....since  its  the  taxpayers  who  will  lose  out  in  the  long - run  ...and  their  argument  is  lets  do  a  casino .????...before  the " NATIVE  AMERICANS "  get  it  ....????????

            In  New  york  there  are  several  casinos  and  a  state  lottery  and  several  race tracks  state  owned  bringing  in  billions  per  week ;

            casinos  pay  states  and  local  gov.  a  precentage  each  year ...what  the  state  is  doing  with  the  tax  money  is  a  better  question ??????????Hat