Four things to know as sports betting launches in Massachusetts

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After years of debate and weeks of regulatory wrangling, legal sports betting officially arrives in Massachusetts at 10 a.m. Tuesday, at least in part. The state’s three casinos, Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville and MGM Springfield, will open their sportsbooks and begin accepting bets, while the state Gaming Commission continues to work toward an early launch date in March for mobile-only sports betting.

It’s the biggest change to the Massachusetts gambling landscape since the first licensed casinos opened under a 2011 law, and a day eagerly awaited by both sports fans and elected officials who pushed to legalize it. betting on sporting events.

Here are four things to know when sports betting begins in Massachusetts.

Legal betting begins with fanfare and big names.

Each of the three casinos is ushering in sports betting with its own special event, all featuring athletes with Massachusetts ties in their marquees. Boston Bruins legend Ray Bourque will be on hand for the inaugural MGM Springfield bet, and former New England Patriot Rob Ninkovich will join in the festivities at Plainridge Park Casino. Encore Boston Harbor has a host of athletes on its roster of morning events: former Bruin Shawn Thornton, former Patriots Ty Law and Matt Light, former Boston Celtics Cedric Maxwell and Eddie House, former Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon and the hockey player Angela Ruggiero. a four-time Olympian.

Members of the Gaming Commission visited each of the three sportsbooks on Monday, touring the facilities and testing their ability to accept bets.

It’s more than just the main sports.

Regulators chose the launch dates with the Super Bowl on February 12 and the March Madness college basketball tournament in mind, but the Massachusetts sports betting universe will be much broader than football and basketball. Along with the other sports you can expect, such as baseball, hockey, golf and soccer, the gambling commission’s catalog of approved betting and events covers everything from Australian rules rules football to volleyball. There’s also Floorball, Handball, Bowling, Lacrosse, Pool, Rodeo, Sailing, Beach Soccer, and special events like the Oscars, Emmys, and Nathan’s famous hot dog eating contest.

Betting is prohibited on any sport or sporting event supervised by the governing bodies of Russia or Belarus, and on competitions where the final result is primarily based on the evaluation of a judge. Persons under the age of 21 cannot legally gamble in Massachusetts and bets cannot be placed with a credit card.

Betting on college sports is allowed, with one caveat. Betting on Massachusetts school teams is generally not allowed, unless the home team is participating in a tournament like March Madness.

It was a long road to get here.

Massachusetts lawmakers had been discussing legalizing sports betting since 2018, when the US Supreme Court struck down a federal ban, but it took years to get a bill through. The state House of Representatives passed sports betting legislation three separate times, with the Senate not joining until April 2022. The two branches reconciled their differences during an all-night session last summer, and former Gov. Charlie Baker signed the state sports betting law. law on August 10.

Sports betting begins about seven years after Plainridge Park opened as the state’s first casino and more than 50 years after the launch of the state lottery. As the legalization bill lingered in the House, its supporters said the delay was not stopping Bay Statens from gambling, but rather propelling them, and the associated revenue, into the black market or operations already in place. operating in states such as New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut. With the bets placed on Tuesday, Massachusetts will join 32 other states and Washington, DC, with live legal sports betting markets, according to the American Gaming Association.

It’s a highly regulated and big money business.

The state will tax the revenue that casinos and other gambling operators collect: 15% for in-person betting and 20% for mobile betting. Lawmakers estimated that sports betting will generate $60 million in annual tax revenue for the state. On top of that, they projected up to $80 million in initial license fees that will need to be renewed every five years.

The sports betting law itself is just one of the many sets of rules at play. The Gaming Commission has worked its way through more than 200 sets of regulations, and each casino has its own internal rules, maximum and minimum bet levels, hours of operation, and other policies. After touring the MGM Springfield sports book for a test drive Monday, gaming commissioner Brad Hill said sports betting rules were easily accessible at a betting kiosk there, and responsible gaming messages, aimed at helping to avoid gambling problems, they were widely displayed.

Last week, the commission launched an opt-out list for sports betting, where people seeking to restrict their gambling can ask the Gaming Commission to temporarily or permanently ban them from sportsbooks and gambling apps. mobile bets. The commission continues to offer the same option for the casino. match.

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