Massachusetts Casino Execs Push For Sports Betting Bill In Letter

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Massachusetts sports betting

In advance of Sunday’s legislative deadline, executives from three Massachusetts casinos sent a letter to state legislators urging passage of a stalled sports betting bill.

The letter obtained by LSR was signed by Encore Boston Harbor executive Jenny Holaday, MGM Springfield executive Chris Kelley, and Plainridge Park Casino executive North Grounsell. It pushes for a conference committee to reach a deal on two different versions of MA sports betting.

“With less than a week remaining in the legislative session, we respectfully implore you to seize on the opportunity to level the playing field in this hyper-competitive industry. We remain readily available to share our policy and operational expertise and working with you towards the establishment of a successful sports wagering market in the Commonwealth,” the letter reads.

Spilka gives hope to MA sports betting bill passage

To pass this year, Massachusetts legislators would have to approve a sports betting bill by the end of regular session on Sunday. Each chamber passed its own version but a conference committee continues to work on compromise.

Both sides have expressed pessimism on the matter. But Senate president Karen Spilka provided sudden hope Monday. She told Mass Live, “Believe it or not, we’re looking at sports betting, and I hope we do get something done.”

That came shortly after House Speaker Ron Mariano had characterized the sides as being “far apart.”

Some in the industry have viewed this back-and-forth rhetoric as a leverage play, and lawmakers could face backlash if the bill doesn’t pass. Issues between the sides include college sports betting, tax rate and a potential advertising ban.

Letter: why Massachusetts needs legal wagering

The letter lays out a number of well-hewn arguments in favor of Massachusetts legal sports betting:

“Massachusetts residents and tourists are traveling out-of-state to spend dollars in establishments that do not have the same regulatory oversight or responsible gaming resources as Massachusetts or, alternatively, are placing wagers in the illegal sports betting market. Legalized sports betting in neighboring states is also costing the Commonwealth much-needed tax revenue,” the letter reads.

“Furthermore, it is impacting our ability to build our workforce as employees, despite increased wages, sign-on bonuses and incentives, particularly those working in tipped positions, are choosing to work in venues that draw significantly larger crowds because of sports betting.”