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Massachusetts Retail Casinos Push for Legalized Sports Betting

August 1, 2022

At this point, there is no remaining doubt that legalized sports betting has become a boon for casino operators throughout the U.S. Casino operators are benefiting from both having sportsbooks in their casinos and their partnerships with online/mobile sports betting concerns.

Given what has transpired around the nation, top retail casinos in Massachusetts are wanting to get in on the action. The only problem is the Massachusetts legislature has not yet passed any meaningful sports betting legislation at any level. Since they are not interested in sitting on the sidelines while state residents travel to surrounding states to place sports bets, executives from three top Massachusetts casinos have sent a letter to the legislature, pleading their case for allowing sports betting access.

According to Mike Mazzeo of Legal Sports Report, the letter was issued in aggregate by the following casino representatives:

  • President Jenny Holaday of Encore Boston Harbor
  • President Chris Kelley of MGM Springfield
  • General Manager North Grounsell of Plainridge Park Casino

With the current legislative term scheduled to end on July 31, 2022, they are pleading with legislators in the House and Senate to reach some kind of an agreement on the format of viable sports betting law. If something doesn’t get done in the next couple of days, any recent progress would be put on hold until the next term, which comes after the midterm election. That would push any possibility of Massachusetts residents being able to place sports bets until the middle of 2023 at best.

Why the Big Push?

Yes, it’s late in the game with the legislative term set to end in days. However, the state’s casino executives don’t want to be accused of doing anything to bring sports betting to the state and its residents.

In the letter, the executive gave three reasons why they felt the legislature should move immediately to get something done. Of course, it’s all of the same usual arguments that have been and are being used all across the country.

First, casino operators are tired of watching sports betting revenue being pushed into other states. Currently, the following adjacent states have legalized sports betting in one form or another: New York and Connecticut with New Jersey and Pennsylvania just a “stone’s throw away.”

Second, the high-spending state has been running deficits in recent years. There is an absolute need to capture any tax revenue that could be available. With evidence that Massachusetts residents have a pent-up desire to wager from home, the sports betting tax betting revenue could be substantial.

Finally, the competition for visitors is fierce among the casinos that are operating on the east coast. There is evidence that casinos offering a wider range of betting options, especially sports betting, have a significant advantage over the casinos that can’t or don’t offer access to sports betting.

Bottom line: All the arguments for and against sports betting have been made. It’s time for the Massachusetts legislature to make a decision.


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