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Should Sports Betting Be Legalized?

A New Way to Play

Senator Michael Brady recently asked his constituents about the issue of sports gambling in the state of Massachusetts. In March of 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PAPSA or the Bradley Act) was unconstitutional. This ruling gave power to states to legalize sports betting if they choose.

Disclaimer: These results are not statistically significant due to the selective ability to respond and share. However, the quantity of responses and comments provide insight into overall sentiment, top concerns, and interest in this proposal.

Support, With Regulations

Senator Brady survey results

Nearly 66% of Senator Brady’s respondents supported legalization of professional sports gambling in Massachusetts, while just 23% opposed.

Although there appears to be strong support for the legalization, there are regulations that some voters would want in place. Several comments recorded by Involved propose that an increase in state revenue is welcomed, but regulations must be set to control the market.

One commenter responded, “yes to sports betting...however, should probably be tied to existing betting venues such as casinos and dog tracks.”

Another wrote, “Massachusetts should legalize sports betting and set standards and minimum investment for retail sports books.”

Betting On State Revenue

Many commenters pointed out the increase in state revenue with legalized sports betting.

One supporter wrote, “We already have the MA lottery so if it's ok for the state to do it (gambling) then why should it be against the law for everyone else? And if it helps the state, fine.” Another contributed that “the revenue that it would bring the State would be beneficial. It will bring jobs to the community.”

Some respondents echoed a comment made by Jamie Chisholm, director of public affairs at DraftKings, a Boston-based online betting platform. “Sports betting is happening right now in Massachusetts, it’s just happening illegally,” Chisholm said.

One commenter added, “People bet on Professional Sports all the time.” Another wrote, “Why Not . They do it all the time . Any money for Mass will be good.”

Others noted the downsides to the legalization of sports betting in the state. “We have 3 casinos now which are competing with each other… We don’t need to add more gambling opportunities.”

A State-Wide Conversation

Earlier this year, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker filed a bill that would legalize sports betting, joining 11 other states. This bill will only apply to professional sports, prohibiting betting on collegiate and high school sporting events. New Jersey is currently the only other state with legal sports betting that prohibits betting on NCAA sporting events. 

Under Governor Baker’s bill, legal sports betting could take place in-person or online with the state taxing retail betting at 10% on revenue and 12.5% for online betting. Although there is strong support for the bill, Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante and others have noted that the process will be diligent to answer questions of sports integrity, protecting minors, and preventing addiction.

Jarrod Hinton