Non-Casino Sports Betting on the Cards for Massachusetts
The state of Massachusetts is aiming to become the first sports betting state that offers online non-casino sports betting. This means that online sports wagering doesn’t have to be affiliated with an existing casino.
In January 2019, governor Charlie Baker proposed a bill that allows sports fans to bet in professional sports games on their mobile devices and casinos. Currently, there is only one land-based casino in operation in the state – the MGM-Springfield along with a slots parlor in Plainville. Another casino, the Encore-Boston Harbor in Everett, is set to open in June, pending approval from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
In a statement, the governor said that exploring non-casino sports betting will not only fund the state but also keep it ahead of the curve. “Expanding Massachusetts’ developing gaming industry to include wagering on professional sports is an opportunity for Massachusetts to invest in local aid while remaining competitive with many other states pursuing similar regulations,” he said. “Our legislation puts forth a series of commonsense [sic] proposals to ensure potential licensees are thoroughly vetted and safeguards are in place to protect against problem gambling and legal activity.”
Non-Casino Sports Betting Proposal
Baker’s proposal states that legalizing non-casino sports betting would generate $35 million in revenue by 2020. This would benefit local aid for the state’s communities. Sportsbook bets would be taxed at 10 percent and online sports bets would be taxed at 12.5 percent.
Other restrictions in the proposal include:
- Setting the age limit for non-casino sports betting to 21 and older.
- Betting can be on major league sports teams.
- Excluding coaches, athletes, referees, and other sports employees from betting.
Baker’s legislation also gives independent fantasy sports and sports betting providers, like DraftKings, the opportunity of a lifetime.
Proposal Not Only Benefits the Community
The director for global public affairs at DraftKings, James Chisholm, says the initiative makes complete sense and keeps people safe from illegal sports betting. “Whether you like it or not, there’s already sports betting going on in Massachusetts, just illegally. Legalizing sports wagering would generate revenue, keep people safe, and create opportunities for the 600-plus employees here at DraftKings,” he said.
The New England Sports Network (NESN), owned by the Fenway Sports Group, is also excited by the changes the non-casino sports betting bill would bring. NESN’s vice president of programming and production, Rick Jaffe, released press statement expressing their excitement. “Sports wagering regulations are changing quickly and with these changes we anticipate an increased interest in obtaining relevant and reliable sports information,” he said.
Why Not Do it for the State Lottery too?
However, not everyone is behind non-casino sports betting. The Massachusetts Lottery, argues that if sports betting goes online, so should the lottery. State treasurer and overseer of the lottery, Deborah Goldberg, appealed to legislators earlier this month to move the state lottery online. She said that doing so would attract new customers and increase revenue for local aid.
“This is an operating company that needs to modernize, and what we are seeing across the world is a cannibalization of sales and the disruption caused for bricks-and-mortar companies by the internet,” she said to the members of the House and Senate Ways and Means committee.
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