AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Good news for local small businesses wanting a seat at the table in the sports betting world, if approved in Massachusetts. Two state legislators representing western Mass. introduced a bill that would allow just that.
"They increase my revenue for the lottery, and people will walk into the store," said Neighbor Food Mart's owner Steve Patel.
Local business owners, such as Patel, would offer sports betting at his store under a new bill proposed by State Representative Orlando Ramos and State Senator Adam Gomez.
Ramos told Western Mass News this law would finally open the door for local businesses, especially minority-owned restaurants and retailers, to see an increase in revenue.
"The other bills proposed in legislature give casinos and online operators to get involved in the business. However, to my knowledge, there are no minority-owned casinos," Ramos said.
Patel has owned Neighbor Food Mart in Amherst for over 12 years. He is licensed under the Massachusetts Lottery Commission to offer Keno. He told Western Mass News adding sports betting would bring in a larger, younger crowd.
"Keno is an old, old game, so they also play the Keno, no doubt, but it’s getting down a little," he noted.
He added that this additional form of gambling would help his business boom.
"They come in the store. They would spend more money towards the grocery, soda, drinks," he explained.
State Representative Ramos said this bill would also allow Massachusetts to catch up to other surrounding states.
"Connecticut has allowed casino gambling for years, as did New York and even Rhode Island," Ramos noted. Right now, people who participate in sports wagering have to go to other states to be able to do that. So why not spend that money here, and why not capitalize on this opportunity here in the Commonwealth?"
The tax dollars would go right back into the hands of local communities.
"There is a provision in the bill that says a percentage of the tax revenue will go towards the municipality in which the wager placed," Ramose said.
The legislation is currently awaiting the next steps at the State House.