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Sports betting could soon be legalized in Massachusetts casinos — wagering could extend to local bars, restaurants and clubs

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With legal sports betting likely to become a reality in Massachusetts casinos and mobile gaming applications, Beacon Hill’s long-awaited compromise bill is now awaiting signature by Governor Charlie Baker.

However, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has also been tasked with exploring the possibility of expanding the scope of betting to smaller businesses as it analyzes the licensing logistics of major operators.

By the end of the year, the commission should submit a report on the installation of sports betting kiosks in local restaurants, bars and nightclubs still reeling from the economic aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. This type of business venture could lead to more state revenue for Massachusetts and serve a wider, more casual and less enthusiastic customer base who tend to bet on Boston’s favorite teams depending on the game and venue. Sport says it has the potential to deliver. Betting lobbyist Ryan McCallum.

“The more options people have, the less likely they are to end up on the black market, especially in person,” said McCallum, a spokesman for Fairplay, Massachusetts. “Additionally, some people, who aren’t big gamblers and don’t download apps on their phones, may go to their local bar and bet $20 on the Patriots just to make it more exciting… Some people don’t want to go to the casino — battling the crowds at the casino and trying to find a seat at the sportsbook for the big game.”

McCollum said the logic also applies to out-of-state travelers who are interested in gambling but who don’t have Massachusetts-specific apps downloaded to their phones.

Local establishments may partner with major sports betting operators such as MGM and DraftKings to offer kiosks to their customers.

In a pending investigation, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will assess the economic impact of gambling kiosks in places strictly regulated for liquor licenses, such as bars and restaurants, and how payments are processed. is. kiosk.

The commission will also examine the problem gambling risks associated with gambling kiosks and their impact on minors.

To address another priority, the commission will develop recommendations to “ensure diversity, fairness and inclusiveness are included in this method of sports betting,” the bill said. has yet to be signed into law by Baker. In addition, the commission seeks to measure “the economic impact of approving this method of sports betting on businesses owned by people of color.”

The survey aims to incorporate a wide range of perspectives, including retailers, convenience stores, restaurants, women and minority-owned businesses, and small business owners.

Billy Stetson, owner of Chicopee’s Rumble Seat Bar and Grill, said the commission’s research was independent and that small businesses (many of which already have keno machines) will process sports betting. He is cautiously optimistic when it comes to proof of readiness. We are disappointed that small businesses are unable to obtain gambling licenses.

“Why can’t I just go to the casino to place a prop bet on Super Bowl Sunday when there are so many different prop bets?” Stetson said. “Why don’t you put it in my place? I want that opportunity.”

The sports betting kiosk will provide Rumbleseat with “a very small” revenue stream, Stetson conceded. But after weathering the pandemic, it will keep customers engaged and give businesses the jolt they need, he said.

“Everything is better. It will be better for the black market,” Stetson said. “Think of his VFW at Berkshire. The average customer is he’s 70. They’re not going to get in the car and drive an hour to get to the casino. I’m going to call them. They’re going to call the black market.”

Tom Hill, owner of TD’s Sports Pub in Chicopee, said he was frustrated that local establishments were not immediately given the same wagering privileges as casinos. The kiosks could lure customers back to the pub, but customers are instead attracted to his options for gambling galore at MGM Springfield, a 15-minute drive away, Hill said. .

“I don’t know why it wasn’t easy. I don’t know why we weren’t considered in the first place,” Hill said, questioning the need for research.

A study of sports betting kiosks only partially met the demands of about 90 owners of bars, restaurants and private clubs. They sent a letter to Massachusetts senators in January asking them to authorize them to “offer sports betting to our patrons.”

“We cannot afford to lose more customers than we have now and cannot compete fairly without the option to offer direct sports betting for establishments within a certain distance of casinos,” the letter said. “These establishments are already seeing their sales plummet as they compete with casinos that can offer slots, table games, state-sponsored keno and free drinks.”

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