Analysis

Massachusetts casinos make case for sports betting control

The gaming companies that have invested millions into the state should be the winners from sports betting opportunity in Massachusetts, say two of the state’s three casinos.

A panel convened by the state Senate in Massachusetts heard from representatives from two casinos in the state who suggested that it was gaming operators who have invested millions who should be the main beneficiaries of any sports betting regulation.

The state house in Massachusetts passed a sports betting bill in the summer but the measure was parked by the Senate, who passed the measure on a panel to discuss.

In a letter to the panel, representatives from the Plainridge Park Casino (PPC), owned by Penn National, and the Encore Boston Harbor, operated by Wynn Resorts, said that casinos should get the most benefit from sports betting.

Mass investments

Pointing to the investment amounts made in the state and jobs created, PPC General Manager Lance George and Encore Boston Harbor President Brian Gullbrants said those that had incurred costs to service the Massachusetts gaming consumer should be “enfranchised under this legislation”.

Under the plan put forward by the casinos, each property would be able to run land-based and online operations on their own behalf and be able to partner with up to three further skins each.

George Gullbrants suggested that if an open market were to be allowed, they would find themselves overwhelmed by a flood of online-only operators.

“Automatic windfalls to industries or interests which assume no new costs, risks or obligations as a result of this type of expansion are not only harmful to the gaming industry’s interests but even more so to overall public interest,” the executives argued.

Penn spent around $250m building the Plainville slots parlor while Wynn pumped $2.6bn into the Encore in Boston.

In an apparent nod to DraftKings’ position as a Boston-based company, the letter from George and Gullbrants suggested that an “online sports betting operator that is headquartered in Massachusetts and has a majority of their employees located in the Commonwealth” could also be granted a license by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Awaiting news

Currently tied at 18th position on the Wedge Index, any eventual progress in Massachusetts would provide a clear boost to the gaming-friendliness of the state. 

Should a market open up with a potential 12 or more operators and with remote registration, it would shoot Massachusetts up the Wedge Index.

The letter to the panel also warned that if the Senate waited too long to pass the House sports betting bill, it would cede the advantage to neighboring states and sap money from their casinos.

“It is imperative that sports wagering expansion in the Commonwealth be done responsibly, with consideration of the framework in place in the existing 22 states that currently allow for legalized sports betting,” George and Gullbrants wrote.

“As previously noted, its viability is affected by neighboring state competitive advantages. The public interest, and the jobs and taxes that our facilities support, depends upon a sensible regulatory approach.”

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Scott Longley

Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and the gambling industry. He has worked for a number of publications including Investor's Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, EGR and GamblingCompliance.com. He now writes for online and print titles across a wide range of sectors.

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