Gov. Charlie Baker affirms support for bill legalizing sports betting in state 

Charlie Baker
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (Photo: Wikipedia)

By Rusty Gorelick
Boston University News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker reiterated his support for legalizing sports betting in the state by tweeting, Massachusetts is “losing out to neighboring states,” on Super Bowl Sunday.

Sports betting, in some form, is currently legal in about 30 states, with 18 states allowing online betting. The push to legalize sports gambling began after the United States Supreme Court voted 7-2 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018.

“We filed a bill in 2019 and again last year to make sports gaming legal,” Baker tweeted on February 13, the day of Super Bowl 56. “MA is losing out to neighboring states on this, especially during big games.”

The bill, No. 269, was most recently referred to the committee on Senate Ways and Means in July 2021.

Massachusetts residents made 28% of bets placed in New Hampshire on the day of the Super Bowl, according to DraftKings, a sports gambling company.

“Millions of people made their first bet on day one of the legalization of sports betting,” said Dr. Christopher Parker, a Boston College sports finance professor. “With these major companies such as DraftKings and other conglomerates, there’s a lot of money involved and I think it will continue to grow.”

Gross revenue from sports betting grew nearly 69% from 2019 to 2020, according to the American Gaming Association. Virginia, North Carolina, Wyoming, Washington state, Arizona, and South Dakota launched sports betting in 2021.

“I view sports betting no differently than the stock market, in the sense that you have to study it and understand the value of certain stocks and companies like you have to understand the value of certain teams and players,” said Will Doctor, president of the Boston University Sports Business Club.

Doctor and Parker both said that fans bet to bring more excitement to games they would not usually watch. Fans will decide which betting lines — created by oddsmakers with betting companies — appear favorable before putting down money.

“A lot of people don’t bet on their teams,” Parker said. “They bet against the odds.”

Doctor adds that putting money on a game would make him more inclined to watch it.

Doctor and Parker believe the industry will grow because of the money involved in betting companies and the potential tax dollar windfall. While the industry outlook is optimistic, the two encourage caution for potential bettors.

“All gambling can be an addiction, like anything else, and there will be people who fall into a gambling addiction, more than likely,” Parker said. “You have to educate people on all the different dynamics, the risks, and the facts around finances when it comes to sports gambling or gambling in general.”

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