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Massachusetts Casinos In Agreement On Possible Sports Betting Regulations

Three State-Licensed Casinos In Agreement On Major Issues Regarding Regulation In The Market

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During two days of hearings at the Massachusetts State House, the three state-licensed casinos presented a unified front to lawmakers about how sports betting should be regulated in the Bay State.

According to local media, much of the debate was centered around whether collegiate athletics should be legal to bet on or not.

There are currently three several different proposals for a sports betting model. Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal is one that would have a total ban on accepting wagers on amateur sports. Mike Kennedy, the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, said that the governor is trying to take a “measured approach” to sports betting by only allowing it on professional events.

Another proposal is to allow wagers on collegiate events except for those contests that involve a school from Massachusetts. Sen. Brendan Crighton, who introduced SB 201 earlier this year, argued on Tuesday that to have a successful market, all collegiate athletics need to be legal for betting.

“We cannot compete with the legal market unless we allow betting on NCAA games,” he said. “This betting ins going on currently and we’re not going to be able to offer a model that lures folds away [from the illegal market] unless we include what is one of the more popular forms of betting.”

All three state-licensed casinos were at the hearing as well and all agreed that college athletics should be fair game for betting. Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor were basically in agreement with how they thought the state should handle the market.

In a joint testimony, representatives of the casinos said they wanted a legal sports betting market with a single-digit tax rate, between five and seven licenses awarded, and that the casinos should be the only places to accept bets at physical locations. Casino representatives also argued that mobile betting should be limited to the three casinos and “a limited number of daily fantasy operators with proven sports wagering experience.”

Essentially, that means casino representatives would be fine with DraftKings and FanDuel operating mobile sportsbooks in the state. A representative of Penn National Gaming, the parent company of Plainridge Park Casino, argued that those operators should only be given a license if they are partnered with a land-based casino.

The CEO of DraftKings argued that it was better if they could operate independently.

“DraftKings and our competitors should have a direct relationship with the regulator – and that means being directly accountable to the regulatory authority, the legislature, and ultimately the state of Massachusetts,” said Jason Robbins, CEO of the Boston-based company.

Representatives of professional sports leagues were also in attendance and argued for an integrity fee of 0.25 percent of total revenue. No state has passed an integrity fee yet. Connecticut was the first state to have the language in proposed legislation.