Some small businesses disappointed, but hopeful over sports betting bill

Restaurants and bars weren’t necessarily left out of the bill, but they won’t be able to start benefitting from the revenue anytime soon.
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:00 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:27 PM EDT
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CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Sports betting is on its way to becoming legal in the Bay State, so long as the governor signs the compromise bill that passed the House and Senate Monday morning, but will this new revenue be open to local restaurants and bars?

Restaurants and bars weren’t necessarily left out of the bill, but they won’t be able to start benefitting from the revenue anytime soon.

State legislators passed a compromise sports betting bill on Monday and many in Massachusetts are excited. However, some think that small businesses were left out of the decision.

“I think it should be legal in bars and restaurants,” said Christopher Lafond of Holyoke.

Lawmakers finally came to an agreement early monday morning on a bill that allows sports betting in the Commonwealth. The legislation allows 15 online licenses, like DraftKings and Fanduel. That’s in addition to five retail sports books, which will go to the three state casinos, including MGM Springfield, and two racetracks. The legislation is now headed to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Western Mass News spoke with State Senator John Velis to better understand the bill and we asked if restaurants and bars are included.

“To me, they deserve to be part of this process and able to get some of these licenses, so we created a commission,” Velis said.

He explained that the commission will examine how sports betting could possibly work in restaurants and bars.

“At a minimum, we owe them, in light of the way that their businesses have been absolutely decimated because of COVID,” Velis explained.

The commission has until the end of the year to complete that study and decide if additional licenses should be granted to small businesses.

Bill Stetson, owner of the Rumbleseat in Chicopee, was lobbying for small businesses to be included in this legislation. He said he’s both disappointed and hopeful.

“We’re disappointed that it didn’t happen right away, but we’re encouraged by the study, the possibilities, and what could come in the future,” Stetson explained.

A launch date for sports betting in the state has not yet been determined. The governor has 10 days to sign the legislation into law or reject it.