Small Businesses Urge Massachusetts Senators to Legalize Sports Betting

  • Restaurants, private clubs, and bars want to form part of a legal sports betting sector
  • A group of almost 90 small businesses sent a letter to each of the state’s 40 senators
  • It outlines how small businesses are struggling to survive due in part to the pandemic
  • The group is hoping to introduce betting kiosks at their establishments
Man writing letter
Small businesses in Massachusetts have come together to urge senators to legalize sports betting. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Coming together to push for inclusion

Almost 90 small businesses have called upon the Massachusetts Senate to legalize sports betting in the state this year.

A collection of restaurants, private clubs, and bars made the plea on Tuesday afternoon, claiming that small companies urgently need support as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The businesses want to form part of the legal sports betting landscape in Massachusetts.

sent a letter to each of the 40 senators in the state

The group of managers and business owners sent a letter to each of the 40 senators in the state endorsing a sports betting bill from Senator Adam Gomez. The letter outlines how legalization would help boost tax revenue, make it safe for people to place bets, and improve “geographic fairness” for those people who do not live close to casinos.

Outlining the benefits

The letter details how small businesses have been “absolutely ravaged” by the pandemic, causing hundreds to shutter for good. Those that are still in business have “had to make deep cuts to stay afloat and are hanging on by a thread,” according to the letter.

The 90 businesses also noted that many people in the state go across state lines into the likes of Rhode Island, New Hampshire, or Connecticut to place sports bets. This means that Massachusetts is missing out on potential tax revenue.

they struggle to compete with casinos offering slot machines and table games

The group claims that small businesses cannot handle losing any more customers. In particular, those businesses that are close to casinos will struggle if they cannot also offer in-person sports betting. The letter outlines how they struggle to compete with casinos offering slot machines and table games, as well as free drinks and the serving of alcohol until a later time.

The group also believes kiosks would help curb problem gambling, providing a “less predatory” setting than people betting at home or inside a casino.

Possible betting legalization

In concluding its aims, the letter states that the group simply wants consideration for inclusion in some shape or form in a legal sports betting landscape.

Almost 20 bills relating to sports betting legalization have failed in Massachusetts in recent years. Lawmakers have differed in opinion on important topics such as tax rates and the allowance of betting on college sports.

That said, there have been some positive signs that sports betting legalization could be on the way. Last week, Senator Eric Lesser, co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, expressed optimism that legalization will happen in 2022.