The next wave of growth the Northeast will see will almost certainly be sports betting. The legislature in Massachusetts will decide this year whether to allow betting on professional sports to be legal within the state’s borders. Because of this, there are many stakeholders interested in legal sports gambling.
The Bay State only legalized Las Vegas-styled casinos in 2011, and there is only one operating casino in the state. MGM Resorts International owns that casino and has been signing sports betting deals.
MGM has announced deals made with the NHL, the NBA and WNBA, and MLB. MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said that these partnerships will help ensure the integrity of baseball:
“I will do whatever I can as a fan, an executive in the gaming industry, and as a sports partner to ensure that this is a partnership that will last forever and is a mutual benefit to Major League Baseball and to MGM.”
Between 1992 and May 2018, the only place you could legally bet on sports games was in the state of Nevada. This was due to the federal law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. It placed a ban on all sports gambling except in Nevada. The state of New Jersey fought against this law, and the case ended up before the Supreme Court.
In May 2018, the Supreme Court Justices came out with their decision: PASPA was unconstitutional and is overturned. This meant that each state could make its own laws surrounding sports betting, at least until the federal government puts out a federal framework of sports betting, anyway.
Many stakeholders have a huge interest in legal sports betting. State Senator Eric Lesser says he’s had a lot of talks with different parties interested in sports betting: From sports teams and casino operators to opponents and advocacy groups, the state legislature has pretty much heard from everyone for or against sports betting.
Lesser, a Longmeadow Democrat, also co-chairs the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. He says sports betting isn’t a simple issue:
“There is no reason to rush. We will do our due diligence, engage with the stakeholders and hopefully have a finished piece of legislation this session.”
Another stakeholder is the Lottery. Bills that would have allowed the Lottery to offer online betting have gone nowhere in previous years. But, could this be the year that sports betting finally breaks through the wall of resistance?
DraftKings, based in Boston, wants to include sports betting along with its fantasy sports business. Republican Governor Charlie Baker isn’t against looking into legalizing sports betting but doesn’t appear to be actively trying to get it approved.
MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis said they’re all looking forward to being able to offer sports betting to customers:
“There is a lot of support with all stakeholders on opening up sports betting in the Commonwealth…We view it as an important amenity to deliver an overall experience and it is especially important here in Massachusetts given the success of all the sports franchises.”
Rhode Island was the first state in New England to legalize sports betting. There are now two casinos in the state that have sportsbooks. New York will likely have legal sports betting very soon. New Jersey has fully operational sportsbooks at several locations.
Connecticut is still battling whether or not to legalize sports betting, while Pennsylvania is enjoying some great returns on their tax revenue from sports betting.
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