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Massachusetts Governor Agrees Sports Betting Will Help State's Economic Recovery

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker Agreed With Comments Made Yesterday By A Boston Red Sox Executive

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An executive from the Boston Red Sox said Tuesday that legalizing sports betting was an easy and necessary move to help the country recover from the economic damage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Massachusetts governor agreed with him.

According to a MassLive report, Red Sox senior vice president of legal and government affairs David Friedman lobbied lawmakers to legalize mobile sports betting during a meeting about the state’s economic recovery plan.

Friedman called mobile sports betting “low-hanging fruit” and argued that it would be one of the easiest ways to increase revenue for both businesses and government. In an era where some brick-and-mortar casinos are still closed, and others are operating at reduced capacity, mobile and online apps make the most sense for generating revenue.

“Four months into this pandemic, mobile sports betting takes on a new urgency for the leagues and teams,” said Friedman. “As I said, our revenues have fallen off a cliff, and so the direct financial impact of revenues for sports betting for teams may be relatively modest – we’re not going to be running sportsbooks ourselves – but today every single dollar of advertising and sponsorship revenue is extremely important to us.”

A day after Friedman made those comments to lawmakers, a reporter asked Republican Gov. Charlie Baker about it during a press conference. According to a Boston.com report, Baker “absolutely” agreed with the comments.

Baker has historically been a supporter of sports betting, having submitted his own sports betting proposal to the state in January 2019. He also cited support for HB 4559, which was filed in the House just before the pandemic and would legalize sports betting.

While not yet legal in The Bay State, sports betting is legal in both Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

“We wanted to give Massachusetts the ability to have people play here rather than playing elsewhere,” said Baker. “And I absolutely believe that, in addition to sort of the cross-border competition issues that would be addressed by doing something here in Massachusetts, it would certainly generate revenue and it would be something that a lot of people would be interested in here at home as opposed to doing across the border.”

Major American professional sports leagues are getting set to restart in the coming weeks, giving legal sportsbooks a chance to start generating revenue again since the leagues put their seasons on pause in mid-March.