STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, DEC. 3, 2019.....When the Massachusetts Lottery moved from Braintree to Dorchester earlier this year, it was a big deal for the Lottery as an agency and for its employees. But players likely have not noticed any difference -- especially if they haven't hit those big jackpot prizes that must be claimed at the headquarters.

That's about to change. On Saturday night, the Lottery will broadcast its final drawings from Braintree. After the winning numbers are pulled and the Lottery host signs off, the studio and equipment for the Numbers Game, Mass Cash and Megabucks Doubler will be retired. And on Sunday, a new studio at the Lottery's Dorchester headquarters will debut with all-new drawing equipment and a plan for new-look online broadcasts.

"The Lottery drawings essentially have had the same equipment, look and feel for over the last 20 years," Michael Sweeney, the Lottery's executive director, said last week.

The current Numbers Game draw machine -- four spinning wheels with sections for numbers 0 through 9 -- will be replaced by a cylinder with four separate segments, each with its own slot for the ball with the winning number. The single spinning drum that's used to select numbers for Mass Cash and Megabucks Doubler will be retired and each game will get its own underlit orb for the new drawings.

About a year and a half ago, the Lottery Commission approved a three-year, $292,575 contract with SmartPlay International for draw game equipment, training and maintenance, and the agency worked with the vendor to design the new machines. The equipment was delivered in June, and a new drawing studio content and production manager has been onboard since October preparing the updated studio and broadcasts.

It's all part of a modernization plan that's been afoot for the last four or five years at the Lottery under Sweeney and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg. The agency retired its old, clunky blue retail machines and replaced them with more modern terminals, and recently went through a major IT overhaul. For its drawings, the Lottery is now embarking on a multi-phased plan that will eventually include a new schedule for all Lottery drawings and plans for remote drawings on-location at big events around the state.

"For many years, all the drawing times were dictated by the programming schedule of our broadcast partners, this goes back 20 or 30 years. Once those broadcast partnerships ended, the Lottery never changed or readjusted or looked at those drawing times," Sweeney said.

The Mass Cash Game's iconic numbered balls bounced around inside the machine ahead of a Dec. 2 drawing on the state Lottery's YouTube channel. [Courtesy/Mass. State Lottery]Since 2011, when the TV studio-based drawings ended, the Lottery has been broadcasting its drawings itself - on Youtube and the Lottery website - from a studio at the Braintree office. When the drawings were brought in-house, the Lottery made no changes to the schedule, which means they're still held at the times set by the TV broadcasters.

The Numbers Game is drawn at 12:46 p.m. and 7:46 p.m., Mass Cash winners get pulled at 9:46 p.m. and the Megabucks Doubler is drawn at 10:46 p.m. Over the last year, the Lottery's marketing and compliance teams have been evaluating the schedule and determined "there could be some benefit in changing these drawing times," Sweeney said.

The new schedule is not final yet -- though it may be ready by February -- but it would reduce the number of drawing times to two -- 2 p.m. for the midday Numbers Game and 9 p.m. for all other drawings.

"We're hoping that by combining them all it will provide greater exposure and brand recognition to the public for all three games. We certainly know there are members of the public who have a favorite game of these and maybe don't necessarily engage the other two," Sweeney said. "We're hoping the increased awareness and branding together will help to drive sales in all three areas."

The plan could also drive sales by allowing the Lottery to open the pool for the next day's drawings sooner. Currently, Mass Cash and Megabucks Doubler players have to wait until 5 a.m. to get their numbers for that day's drawing, but the new schedule would allow the drawing pool to open up at 9:45 p.m. the night before the winning combination is called.

Phase three of the modernization will be an ongoing effort to transform the actual online broadcasts into something more engaging. Right now, most broadcasts feature an offscreen Lottery host who introduces the game, announces the date of the drawing, calls out the winning numbers and reminds players of Lottery-related promotions.

"The nightly drawing videos will have new content graphics and animations," Sweeney said.

The final phase of the drawing refresh is a plan for the Lottery to look for opportunities to conduct remote drawings at big events around the state. Sweeney said those drawings would be an "opportunity to both brand and expose the Lottery in a positive manner and interact with the community in a low-cost but hopefully effective way to continue to draw interest in these games."