How soon before sports betting becomes legal in Mass?
By Wale Aliyu
FOXBORO, Mass. — New England sports betting fans have a couple of different gripes. One, they wanted the AFC Championship game to be played at Gillette. Two, it’s still illegal in Massachusetts. While there’s nothing we can do about the Patriots, making sports betting legal could come soon.
It’s been almost four years since individual states were allowed to legalize sports betting and so far about 30 states have so why is Massachusetts on the latter half of the states that are getting on board?
“Transportation, education, mental health care,” said state senator Eric Lesser. “So there’s a lot of important priorities kind of juggling for people’s attention. The governor and his state of the Commonwealth last week went through a long list of priorities he’d like to see in the coming year. He didn’t mention sports betting.
Despite the fight to get this issue prioritized, the House did complete a bill last year and right now there’s a version pending in the Senate that’s under consideration and review. Senator Lesser says he is hopeful it will go to the full Senate for a vote in the next few months but knows it is a divisive issue.
“Even though it’s illegal people also do it out of state so why not,” said Max Astakh of Walpole.
“I know a lot of kids that make a good income off of it but I know it’s not the best thing to get involved in because it’s pretty much the same concept as gambling,” said Aaron Meighan of Walpole.
The Mass Council on gaming & health is not against the bill but wants to make sure everyone making a bet is well informed and that there is help for addicts and guidelines on the Speed of games and amount of advertising.
“The algorithms have kind of been figured out by these companies already,” said executive director of the Massachusetts Council on Gaming & Health Marlene Warner. “So if someone starts to demonstrate that they’re going off-kilter from their regular wagering behavior, making sure that someone’s intervening.”
“A lot of other states have done it including almost all of our neighbors and it’s gone pretty smoothly,” said Senator Lesser. “You’ve got to make sure addiction is taken care of. We know there have been issues in the past with sports around the integrity of the game, making sure you’re handling cheating but those things I do think can be managed.”
Senator Lesser’s bill would focus on the pro sports: NFL NHL NBA & MLB. He says the pro leagues are ready to go and then he wants to branch out from there.