Sports Betting Supporters Make Final Effort for Legalization in Massachusetts

  • Lawmakers are being urged to legalize sports betting before the legislative session ends
  • David Friedman spoke on behalf of a coalition of sports teams, sportsbooks, and MGM Resorts
  • The coalition believes that even a small financial impact would help sports teams and operators
  • A sports betting bill is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee
Boston's Fenway Park
A coalition of pro sports teams, sportsbooks, and MGM Resorts is pushing for legal sports betting in Massachusetts. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Running out of time

An attorney for the Boston Red Sox is pushing for a sports betting legalization bill to get approval in Massachusetts before the legislative session ends.

David Friedman, Red Sox senior vice president for legal and government affairs, spoke to lawmakers about potential legalization. With the state looking at ways to recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic, Friedman pitched to lawmakers at a Resilience and Recovery Special Committee meeting. 

He talked about how legalizing sports betting would offer some relief to casino operators, professional sports teams, and other related companies that were negatively impacted by the pandemic. 

today every single dollar of advertising and sponsorship revenue is extremely important to us.”

Friedman spoke about the urgency of legalizing mobile sports betting, saying: “As I said, our revenues have fallen off a cliff, and so the direct financial impact of revenues for sports betting for teams may be relatively modest — we’re not going to be running sportsbooks ourselves — but today every single dollar of advertising and sponsorship revenue is extremely important to us.”

A coalition effort

Friedman spoke on behalf of a coalition of pro sports teams, MGM Resorts, and sportsbooks. Members of the coalition include the Red Sox, the NBA, the Boston Celtics, MLB, the PGA Tour, FanDuel, DraftKings, and MGM Springfield. 

MGM Springfield reopened on July 13 after being closed since March 15 because of the pandemic. The casino believes that sports betting would be a great way to attract patrons back to the casino. The Red Sox will begin their shortened 2020 season on Friday night; the club is facing millions in losses from unsold tickets.

Push for legalization

In March, the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies proposed a bill to legalize sports betting for people who are at least 21 years old. It would see retail sportsbooks open in casinos, horse tracks, and slot parlors, as well permit some online betting. The sportsbooks would be regulated by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. 

The bill made its way into the House Ways and Means Committee, but no indication has been given as to whether or not it will get approval from lawmakers before the current legislative session ends on July 31.

operators could be ready to open sportsbooks by the end of the MLB season

If sports betting does get approval, operators could be ready to open sportsbooks by the end of the MLB season at the earliest and by the league’s opening day in 2021 at the latest.