Casinos Could Control Sports Betting Market in Massachusetts
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According to MassLive, it appears that with the overwhelming support of the members of the House of Representatives in Massachusetts, casinos may control the sports betting market in the state. In case you don’t know, sports betting is not lawful in Massachusetts.
During a recent debate about the legal status of sports betting at the floor of the House of Representatives, lawmakers authorized lawful sports betting in their economic development bill.
However, the Senate didn’t support the bill. Nonetheless, there is still a glimpse of hope, considering that a conference committee of three house representatives and Senate members has the final say.
Massachusetts Sports Betting Background
Massachusetts only approved brick and mortar gaming in 2011 after an age-long opposition. The bill permitted the setting up of three commercial casinos in the state.
Plainridge Park Casino was the first casino house to open in Massachusetts in 2015. MGM Springfield followed suit in 2019, and the third Encore Boston Harbor was launched in 2019. All this while lawmakers in Massachusetts were completely again establishing bring and mortar gaming houses in the state.
However, while other states were approving sports betting, lawmakers in the House of representative and Senate vehemently opposed the idea of sports betting until recently when a bill to make it lawful was proposed early this year.
Delay in Legalizing Sports Betting in Massachusetts
Although not all lawmakers approved the legalization of sports betting in the state, the support of the House of Representatives’ majority gives stakeholders in the industry a glimpse of hope. However, apart from the refusal of the Senate to support the bill, there are some other factors that have delayed the legalization of sports betting. There are:
Whether or not college sports betting should be legalized
The squabble over purveyor access
According to some reports, the Senate opposed the economic development bill because they believe sports betting is not supposed to be part of the economic bill. In other words, the authorization of sports should be in a stand-alone bill.
However, it does appear that the lawmakers are thinking differently now. The lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled General court and the Republican Governor Charlie Baker support authorization of sports betting. Baker also co-sponsored the bill that aims to make sports betting lawful in the state.
Effect of Legalizing Sports Betting in Massachusetts
No doubt, permitting sports betting will improve the income of online real money casinos and the state revenue at large. The management of Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor has argued that approving sports betting will create a robust gaming industry. More so, considering the investment already made by three casinos operating in the state, sports betting will create additional revenue for the companies.
With neighboring states already adopting sports betting, gamblers in Massachusetts may switch focus and patronize them. According to Lance George and Brian Gullbrants, this could spell doom for the casinos in states. Lance and Brian are the general manager of Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor Casinos, respectively. Not to mention, this will cause a massive unemployment rate in the state. The casino in Massachusetts currently employs about 20 percent of the state’s workforce.
In a joint letter by both General Managers, they further argued that permitting sports betting in the state doesn’t pose any challenge to the industry; instead, it will create more revenue. Lance and Brian also supported giving the Massachusetts Gaming Commission extra powers to grant online sports licenses.
Conference Committee and the Possible Approval of Sports Betting in Massachusetts
From all indications, the only hope for approval of sports betting is approval by the conference committee panel. This panel comprises three House of Representative and Senate members, respectively.
With the House of Representatives members’ overwhelming support, it seems like the committee will approve sporting betting.
Historically, the conference committees over the years have often ditch proposals supported by just one branch of the lawmakers. This will dime the hope of sports betting receiving the final nod in the state. With the economic challenges experienced this year, the conference committee may see reasons to approve the proposal.
The Future of Sports Betting in Massachusetts
At this point, predicting whether or not sports betting will be made lawful in Massachusetts is difficult. However, a few factors point to the fact that the state will adopt this aspect of gambling in no distant time.
For instance, the pandemic has adversely affected the revenue of most states, including Massachusetts. Therefore, approving the operations of sports betting by casinos in Massachusetts will increase their revenue.
Finally, with all the states around Massachusetts adopting sports betting, the lawmakers may have no choice but to approve the operation of this industry in the state. The secure online gambling sites and industry overall in Massachusetts are a viable business, and the casinos need to be allowed to explore the sports betting niche to earn more income.