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The Argument: Will Massachusetts benefit from sports betting?

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Jerry Parisella

State representative, Beverly Democrat; House chair, Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies

Jerry Parisella

All Massachusetts residents will benefit from the revenue generated from sports wagering now that we have adopted legislation legalizing it in the Commonwealth.

Sports betting has been a pastime ever since teams and individuals challenged each other on the field of play. But until a 2018 Supreme Court decision overturned the federal ban on sports betting, it was illegal to do so except in Nevada. Since then, about 30 states have implemented legalized sports betting, including New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. Our state was losing out to our neighbors and the black market.


The Boston sports-betting company DraftKings noted that nearly 30 percent of the 2022 Super Bowl bets in New Hampshire were from Massachusetts residents. Now we can recapture those dollars and use them to support services for our residents. It is estimated Massachusetts will take in up to $80 million just in initial licensing fees, which under the new law must be renewed every five years, and another $60 million in annual tax revenue.

The law allows the current casinos and race tracks to operate in-person sports books, meaning hundreds of jobs will be created to support these venues. Also, mobile applications are permitted, which is the most popular platform to bet on sports. The revenue generated will be split in several ways, including going to the state’s general fund; local aid to help cities and towns pay for public safety, parks, and other municipal services, workforce training, after-school programs, and support for those with gambling addiction. There are also consumer protections in the law, such as allowing gamblers to self-exclude from betting, and restrictions on advertising and a 21-year-old betting age.

Boston is without a doubt a sports hub and our residents are more than passionate about our teams. Massachusetts is home to nine World Series trophies, six Lombardi trophies, 17 NBA championships, and six Stanley Cups. Fans here have overcome an 86-year old curse, watched the greatest quarterback of all time play each week, and saw Duck Boats parade through downtown Boston 12 times in the past 22 years.


Betting on these teams has already been happening, so making it legal, providing consumer protections and using the revenues generated to support our residents, is the smart play.


Richard Reid

Pastor, North Baptist Church of Brockton

Richard ReidLynn Reid

The legalization of a new aspect of gambling has come to the residents of Massachusetts. As with all aspects of gambling, one of the major problems with it is the increase of addiction. The fallout for the families is the same regardless of the format of gambling.

History has shown us repeatedly that those who can least afford to risk any portion of their resources to gambling are hardest hit as each state seeks to gain more revenue at any cost. Though this is new to Massachusetts, I suspect the revenue from sports betting will be well under the projections provided to legislators. However, the damage to the family structure and the burden on localities will be real.

In most ventures, a key to success is timing. Where we find ourselves now is at a time of high inflation and facing the possibility of a recession. Yes, the pandemic is easing, but many families continue to struggle, something I see first-hand in my home city of Brockton. Adding access to another vice is the last thing we need. For many sports betting will be another financial blow, and a trip to further dependence on state assistance.


Where will legalized sports betting lead us? Quite frankly I am not sure, but I do know it is not in the right path for the families of Massachusetts.

When I think of all the levels of organized sports I played and have watched for decades, the thrill of the win was pure and clean. No regrets or burden of thinking someone may have lost everything on a game. No tanking, no throwing a game, just fun and enjoyment for the participants and fans.

When we are framing public policy it is undeniably important to think about who might benefit from it, but perhaps even more vital that we consider who might suffer from the harms — intended or not. I am sure there are people thrilled at the chance to legally wager on games, and the state and municipalities are never unhappy to earn new revenues. But I firmly believe the resulting cost — intensifying gambling addiction and inflicting pain on families who are already hurting — is too much. Instead of welcoming sports betting, we should seek to stop it.

As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. To suggest a topic, please contact laidler@globe.com.

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