Gaming Commission orders legal study on sports betting – Boston 25 News


BOSTON – The Senate has still not shown interest in sports betting, but the Massachusetts Gaming Commission gave the green light on Thursday to a study on the legalization of sports betting and insisted it be put on the front line from the research team stage as the agency prepares for the possibility of assuming control of the activity.

Mark Vander Linden, director of research and responsible gambling for the commission, presented a list of five possible topics for ad hoc study by the Massachusetts Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling Research Team (SEIGMA). Vander Linden recommended, and commissioners focused on, a study of how legal sports betting has been implemented in the nearly three dozen states that have approved it in recent years.

“An analysis in this area would be done to take a look, obviously taking advantage of [a previous National Council on Problem Gambling] study, examining other data that may exist in other states, examining how legalization was rolled out in those states, and combining it would allow us to better understand the likely impacts of sports betting legalization in Massachusetts , if necessary be legalized, as well as what would be a kind of guiding path towards measures to mitigate this harm, ”said Vander Linden.

Massachusetts House overwhelmingly approved the legalization of sports betting in July, but the Senate never really engaged on the subject and did not appear interested in doing so, although Senators have not publicly expressed their opposition. adamant about the idea.

If sports betting were to become legal in Massachusetts as it is in more than 30 states, including neighboring Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York State, it is generally expected that the Gaming Commission be responsible for regulating the activity and the industry.

“I think this will be the problem we are all going to be dealing with in the very near future and the more information we can get the better we can help each other make our decisions,” said Commissioner Brad Hill. , who voted in favor of sports betting this summer as a state representative, said Thursday.

With that in mind, the commissioners said they would be interested to see if the SEIGMA research team would be able to complete their study and report by June 30, 2022, which would be the usual deadline for an ad hoc study. of an exercise.

“I agree with that. If we could push this study to take the front of the team, that would be great,” said Vander Linden. “I can’t speak for them and how their work is shaping up. ‘be prepared right now, but I’ll definitely talk to them about it and express that it’s a priority. “

The commissioners also considered hiring the SEIGMA research team to use location data from cellphones to analyze where casino customers come from and how they spend their money in both Massachusetts and the states. adjacent.

President Cathy Judd-Stein said she was torn between the two study topics because while sports betting is the most timely problem, analyzing cell phone data could be useful for both sports betting policy and other issues that have preoccupied the committee for years.

“This data would be really useful not only for sports betting, but it could also inform our work regarding region C,” she said, referring to the commission’s still unassigned resort casino license for Bristol. , Plymouth, Barnstable, Dukes or Nantucket. counties.

The state’s expanded gambling law of 2011 gave the commission the power to grant up to three resort casino licenses. So far only two have been awarded – to MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor in Everett.

Region C has been an unresolved issue for the board for years. In 2016, when it emerged that a Mashpee Wampanoag tribal casino in Taunton was likely, the commission rejected a proposal for a commercial casino in Brockton. Since then, the tribe’s plan has been called into question and regulators have discussed reopening auctions for Region C, but were in no rush to take this step.

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