Three takes on Lottery move

There are three ways to look at the Massachusetts Lottery’s decision to move its headquarters from Braintree to Dorchester.

From an economic perspective, the move is expected to hike costs. The new lease is $15.2 million over 10 years, or an average of $1.5 million a year. The expiring Braintree lease is $2.2 million a year, but the building also houses a warehouse and regional office. Lottery officials hinted those operations would remain in Braintree, presumably in new spaces with new leases. Michael Sweeney, the Lottery’s executive director, predicted  the new lease arrangements will cost significantly more.

From a strategic perspective, the move has pros and cons. Treasured Deborah Goldberg, the chairman of the Lottery Commission, said she likes the new location on Mt. Vernon Street because it’s a short walk from the JFK/UMass Red Line station. She said the average age of Lottery employees is pretty high, and she wants to be in a location that can attract younger workers as the state gambling operation makes an expected move online. The current offices in Braintree are 2.5 miles from the nearest Red Line stop.

On the other hand, it seems likely the move will split operations between Dorchester and Braintree, which some in the business world think is a bad idea. (See John Hancock decision to move its HQ back to the Back Bay.)

From a political perspective, the move is very intriguing. Back in 2016, when the Legislature was fashioning the state’s marijuana law, there was speculation that the key House negotiator, Rep. Mark Cusack, was steering control of pot regulation away from Goldberg because of her desire to move the Lottery’s headquarters out of Braintree. Cusack, who represents Braintree, dismissed the speculation, but the Legislature nevertheless did strip away much of the oversight given to Goldberg’s office by a voter-approved ballot measure.

Goldberg went ahead with the Lottery move on Tuesday, leaving a lot of bruised feelings in her wake. Cusack said he needed more information on the decision, noting the higher lease costs would reduce the amount of local aid the Lottery provides to cities and towns. “There has to be some basis why they think this is in the best interest of the Commonwealth,” he said.

Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan, who used to run the Lottery himself, said he was disappointed with the decision to move  “It is the treasurer’s prerogative,” he said. “This move was a Treasury decision.”



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