Massachusetts has been falling behind in the big push for sports betting legalization in the United States. To try and fix things, 90-odd small business owners have sent a letter to the State Senate in the hopes of convincing legislators to finally pursue a course of action that will result in the legalization of sports gambling. This comes months after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission promised to explore the implications of a regulated sports betting industry.
Without official permission to launch such activities, the Bay State is suffering as money is flowing towards neighboring states or, worse – offshore to unlicensed operators. Taking things into their own hands, a collective of restaurants, bars, and private clubs sent an appeal to legislators and asked senators to step up efforts in passing the necessary measures to see sports betting law through.
The letter was addressed to each of the 40 state senators in the upper house, with each member receiving a copy. In doing so, businesses tried to not just ask for legalized sports betting, but they also detailed how the move would help boost revenue at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has written off a lot of their traditional income.
The legalization proposed by the business owners argues that if Massachusetts passes a sports betting bill that enables them to offer sports betting operations, that would create a sort of “geographic fairness.” This means that people who aren’t in the immediate vicinity of a casino won’t have to travel hours to get to one.
Plugging the Holes Left by the Pandemic
The most evident reason for trying to boost revenue – other than capturing the outflow of funds from the state – is to help with recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which remains as precarious as it was first detected. Many businesses had to make deep cuts, the letter argued.
Meanwhile, the signees argued that gamblers were traveling across the state line to go to New Hampshire, Connecticut, or Rhode Island for an opportunity to gamble on sports. This trend must be reversed, as businesses are not financially healthy enough to afford losing more business, they argue.
Betting kiosks on-site at such small businesses could boost the local economy and help tackle another popular issue – problem gambling. Those machines would provide a far less predatory environment, the businesses argue and say that slot machines aren’t enough to compete with casinos that can afford to serve alcohol.
Legalizing, But Going Online
Of course, businesses’ plea stands to reason. However, in pushing the state to regulate sports gambling, there are other factors to consider. The road to legalizing sports wagering is not always focused on the land-based segment.
In fact, many states are choosing to go down the interactive road, and most recently New York. This would not only completely miss the mark of what the letter is trying to achieve, but it would potentially make such businesses miss out on revenue.
From a consumer standpoint, though, online betting brings the bulk of the total betting handle, and it makes sense to pursue this course of action. Earlier this month, Democratic governor hopeful Eric Lesser said that he would look into the issue with his general track record for sports betting legislation giving him a good chance to strike home with voters from both sides of the political spectrum.