Local legislators discuss what’s to come after sports betting legalization

On Wednesday, Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill into law that legalizes sports betting in the Commonwealth.
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 10:14 PM EDT
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(WGGB/WSHM) - On Wednesday, Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill into law that legalizes sports betting in the Commonwealth.

This move comes just nine days after the state’s House and Senate agreed on a compromise bill and just one day before the governor’s deadline to sign it. We caught up with legislators who think this is a positive step for the Bay State.

“It’s about time,” said State Senator John Velis. “I mean, there’s been a lot of revenue that we’ve left on the table for so many years. This has been legalized now for 4 years. The U.S. Supreme Court said we could do this.”

Senator Velis told Western Mass News that he is happy the governor signed the bill, and thinks this will be beneficial to the Commonwealth.

“It pains me when I see people, friends of mine, talk to me about how they went to New York, how they went to Connecticut, how they went to all these other states because that’s revenue that’s going to pave roads. It’s going to pave potholes. It’s going to help with schools,” he said.

Senator Eric Lesser, who has been a big supporter of sports betting, also reacted to the news, saying in part, quote:

“I want to thank Governor Baker for signing this legislation, as well as my colleagues who worked so hard to make it happen. This new law will give residents new ways to engage with sports, generate new jobs and investment, and includes some of the strongest consumer and player safeguards in the country.”

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission now has to put regulations in place before people can start placing their bets on sports teams within Massachusetts, and how long that could take is in their hands.

“Much of the timeline is, actually, now going to be in their… it’s going to be their responsibility,” Senator Velis said.

However, he added that he hopes it is sooner rather than later.

“I still hold out hope that we’ll be able to do it by the Super Bowl this sports season,” Senator Velis told us. “If we couldn’t,’ that would, again, be millions and millions of dollars that were losing.”

The Gaming Commission released a statement Wednesday that reads in part, quote:

“For the past several years, we have been monitoring sports wagering legislation and taking appropriate steps to prepare for our potential role. As soon as this week, we will be working to understand the landscape of interest in operator licensure as we move forward with this process.”

“As much as we want it to happen fast, this is an entirely new industry, and I’d rather get it right, even if it takes a month or two more, than to go in this and then we have to go back to the legislative board and say, ‘Alright, we missed that. This was a mishap. We need to go back and fix it,’” Senator Velis told us.

Once regulations are in place, betting will be allowed at the state’s two racetracks and three casinos, including MGM Springfield. The casino’s President and CEO told Western Mass News that they are thrilled, saying in part:

“We look forward to working with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission as they craft the necessary regulations. MGM Springfield is excited to welcome sports fans and deliver a world-class viewing and betting experience with BetMGM.”