Encore Boston Harbor

  • Sports Betting in Massachusetts is still not legal and will most likely be further discussed by lawmakers in the 2021 legislative session.
  • The three casinos in the state are Plainridge Park, Encore Boston Harbor, and MGM Springfield.
  • The casinos told leaders in Beacon Hill that they would be willing to allow a company that is headquartered in Massachusetts a sports betting license but that only company is DraftKings.

BOSTONSports betting in Massachusetts still hasn’t been legalized, but the state’s casinos want lawmakers to know now that they want the majority control over the state’s future industry.

In late October, executives from Penn National and Wynn Resorts wrote a joint letter to Beacon Hill leaders urging them to allow the state’s casinos to hold three sports betting licenses each. One license would be for themselves, the other two would allow them to partner with outside companies.

“Those that make actual investments in Massachusetts, assume legitimate risk, and incur costs to provide a service or benefit in the Commonwealth should be enfranchised under this legislation. Conversely, automatic windfalls to industries or interests which assume no new costs, risks or obligations as a result of this type of expansion are not only harmful to the gaming industry’s interests but even more so to overall public interest,” the letter read.

Penn National Gaming owns Plain Ridge Park Casino and invested $250 million to build it and $7 million into capital projects since the start of its operations.

Wynn Resorts, on the other hand, spent $2.6 billion just to build Encore Boston Harbor.

The letter claimed they would also allow the state’s third and final casino, MGM Springfield, to also hold three licenses. But there were other specific rules they requested for online sports betting in Massachusetts.

Special Provisions For The Hometown DraftKings

Efforts to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts have been going on for some time.

The latest effort came through an economic stimulus bill approved by the House which made provisions for retail and online sports betting. However, the Senate took those provisions out and decided that should be discussed as a separate issue.

Those original provisions allowed in that bill granted four untethered licenses to online sportsbook operators. But in the casinos’ proposal, they asked that the Gaming Commission grant a license for “an online sports betting operator that is headquartered in Massachusetts and has a majority of their employees located in the Commonwealth.”

Under those circumstances, the only sports betting company that would qualify would be DraftKings.

DraftKings has also called for sports betting legalization in the Commonwealth, but whether or not they get special treatment will be up to state lawmakers currently negotiating an economic stimulus bill among other bills.

Casinos Are Urging Sports Betting Legalization Now

Casinos in Massachusetts also noted in their letter that money that could potentially stay instate is leaving.

“Sports wagering expansion by our neighboring states substantially affects the competitive posture of the gaming industry here in the Commonwealth and places us at a strong disadvantage, with Massachusetts jobs, revenues and economic activity at stake. It is imperative that sports wagering expansion in the Commonwealth be done responsibly, with consideration of the framework in place in the existing 22 states that currently allow for legalized sports betting,” wrote Lance George, PPC general Manager and Brian Gullbrants, the President of Encore Boston Harbor. “A robust brick and mortar gaming industry is just beginning to emerge in Massachusetts. As previously noted, its viability is affected by neighboring state competitive advantages. The public interest, and the jobs and taxes that our facilities support, depends upon a sensible regulatory approach.”

Sports betting has been legal and operational in Rhode Island for two years. DraftKings has been the sole provider of online sports betting in New Hampshire since December of 2019.

Sports bettors in Boston can drive an hour in either direction and be within state lines to use either Rhode Island’s or New Hampshire’s online sports betting platforms. With COVID-19 affecting Massachusetts’s state budget, they may be more inclined to keep those dollars instate sooner rather than later.

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