Massachusetts Listens to Casino Demands in a Sports Betting Hearing

Casinos in Massachusetts have written a joint letter to lawmakers in the state, outlining their demands for the future of sports betting.

Officials from the MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park came together to draw an outline as to what they want from a sports wagering measure.

In addition to being legalized, the casinos want sports betting to be regulated by the state.

The three casinos also believe it is vital that lawmakers legalize sports betting to ward off competition by neighboring states.

The casinos also want a single-digit tax rate to keep odds at a reasonable level to encourage legal betting and curtail illegal bookmaking.

According to H2 Gambling Capital, illegal sports betting in the state is around $680 million in offshore betting.

And finally, the casinos want sports betting to be exclusive to them and their daily fantasy partners, such as FanDuel and DraftKings.

The presidents of the three casinos wrote in a collective statement, “Land-based sports betting should be reserved for the commonwealth’s duly licensed casino operators.”

“Mobile sports wagering should be reserved for licensed casino operators and a limited number of daily fantasy operators with proven sports wagering experience.”

“These operators have already made tremendous investments and are large drivers of economic activity, jobs and tourism for the commonwealth,” they concluded.

The hearing will take place this week and be a further exploration of sports betting expansion inside the state.

What Will the Hearing Accomplish For Legislators?

Massachusetts legislators are still gathering information for the best avenue to attack a sports betting bill.

The hearing is expected to signal if lawmakers feel their concerns are being met and that wagering could be accomplished in the state without serious problems.

“It’s important before we rush into a discussion of what legalization would look like, we answer that threshold question of whether we want it in Massachusetts,” Sen. Eric Lesser said.

After lawmakers in the state passed on debating the legislation in 2018, the Governor, Charlie Baker, told the media that sports betting would be confronted this year.

Gov. Baker’s administration proposed a bill that would keep betting at casinos while allowing online operators to apply for a license.

MGM President Michael Mathis told MassLive.com that sports betting could provide a huge financial windfall to the industry and the state.

“It’s happening currently in the commonwealth. It’s just happening illegally with offshore black market operators,” Mathis said.

“We believe we’re well positioned to bring some light to it and manage it in a responsible way for the commonwealth that brings jobs, tax revenue, and integrity.”

Mathis has warned lawmakers that finding a compromise and approving a bill now is crucial to undercutting the possibility that Connecticut and Maine could beat the state to legalization.

“It’s a race to be first in the market,” Mathis said. “It’s really important, particularly for a facility like ours right on the border.”

Mathis believes that a tax rate that hovers around 8-10% wouldn’t suffocate growth in the industry.

“If we’re at 10%, that’s close enough to single digits I think that would be acceptable,” Mathis said.

Lawmakers will get to hear from industry titans like Mathis over the two-day hearing and then decide if they want to move forward with a proposal.