Casino executives in Massachusetts are urging Beacon Hill legislators to allow sports betting. This will allow three leading gaming venues in the region to compete fairly with other states' casinos where players wager on sports.
Jenny Holaday, Encore Boston Harbor's President, is among the three casino executives who are calling on Massachusetts to pass sports betting. She claims that the current prohibition is greatly limiting Plainridge Park and Encore, MGM Springfield's ability to compete with other leading casinos.
Plainridge Park and MGM Springfield officials wrote to Massachusetts House and Senate lawmakers highlighting their concerns. They dread that the legislature will adjourn again without legalizing sports betting. But the General Court will wind up its 2022 session at the end of this month.
The casino executives add that allowing the three casinos to provide sports bets will retain more bettors in the Commonwealth. Some of them often travel to Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island to wager on various sports. Still, bookmaking isn't the only activity that Massachusetts casinos are missing since bettors drink and eat as they wager.
The executives didn't state particular policy conditions that they wanted the state to adopt. Instead, they want its lawmakers to reach a consensus before August 1 and present the sports gambling bill to Governor Charlie Baker.
The Committee's Progress
Some Massachusetts lawmakers are opposing the legalization of sports gambling. Yet, the House and Senate have huge differences about the gambling expansion plans.
The Senate intends to introduce a 35 percent tax on online bookmakers' revenue and a 20 percent tax on in-person revenue. The House claims that a low tax of 15 percent online and 12.5 percent on retail is affordable. It supports the approval of regulated bookies to compete with unregulated offshore sportsbooks.
The Senate passed a Massachusetts sports gambling bill that wants to ban gambling on college athletics, yet the House wants to approve it. A joint conference committee comprising three House Representatives and three Senators has tirelessly worked since June to agree on the issue.
The General Court will adjourn in less than a week, and the odds that the committee will conclude the conference report will reduce after its adjournment. Even so, each chamber has to approve the joint gambling measure.
More Action Is Needed
Plainridge and Encore, MGM casino executives are optimistic that the joint conference committee will reach a resolution by next Monday. They say that their casinos will lose a lot of revenue if Massachusetts continues banning sports gambling.
Holaday, Plainridge Park General Manager North Grounsell, and MGM Springfield President Chris Kelley signed a letter that stated that they are imploring the state's lawmakers to approve sports gambling and level the state's betting market. The letter added that 35 states in the U.S. have allowed sports gambling today, including Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.
It stated that each Commonwealth resident is less than two hours drive from a state that allows sports bets. Thus, casinos in other states have an advantage over Massachusetts operators. Also, the state is losing sports gaming revenue that it can use to fund some projects.