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Sports Betting

With Massachusetts finally opening sports betting today, the opening ceremonies are ready to go

MGM Springfield is one of three locations in the state where gamblers can get rolling on Tuesday.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe/file

All the questions about sports betting for Chris Kelley, president of MGM Springfield, are going to stop at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

“The single question I’ve gotten more than any other is, ‘When are you going to have sports betting, can I place a bet on a game, why can I do it there and not here?’ To finally be able to answer those questions with a ‘yes,’ is an extraordinary thing for us,” said Kelley. “We operate, you know, six miles away from the state of Connecticut, and they did move forward legislatively, a bit ahead of us in Massachusetts. And so we’ve seen in real time the impact that can have. Many of our guests have made that trip over the border for awhile, so this is a big deal for them and it’s a big deal for us, and we’re very excited about it.”


The approximately one-month head-start retail sports betting has on mobile sports betting, which is slated for as soon as March 1, provides a unique opportunity for Kelley’s casino, one of three in the state.

“When you think about betting volume, mobile tends to be the vehicle through which most bets are placed, but this is an opportunity for us to introduce this first at the brick-and-mortar, and I think it’s a great way to pressure-test it and make sure everything’s working as we intend,” said Kelley. “Also, it’s a great way to introduce the more social experience that sports betting can bring — I think that’s a positive for the city, and certainly it’s a positive for the property.

Besides the five Mass. Gaming Commission commissioners — chair Cathy Judd-Stein, Eileen O’Brien, Bradford Hill, Nakisha Skinner, and Jordan Maynard — who are expected to be on hand for the first bet at 10 a.m., the list of attendees Tuesday includes Bruins great Ray Bourque, Springfield mayor Domenic Sarno, state Senator Adam Gomez, state Representative Carlos Gonzalez, and other casino executives.


The ceremony for Plainridge Park Casino will take place at 1:30 p.m., and will feature former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich and North Grounsell, the casino’s vice president and general manager.

The 10 a.m. opening act at Encore Boston Harbor will feature 32 patrons — stationed at 32 kiosks — selected from a group who participate in social media featuring the resort. A half-hour later, a few better-known former Boston-area athlete bettors will place first bets with live tellers at the WynnBET Sportsbook windows. Among the names: ex-Bruin Shawn Thornton; Patriots Hall of Famers Ty Law and Matt Light; former Celtics Cedric Maxwell and Eddie House; the Red Sox’ Johnny Damon; Harvard and Olympic ice hockey player Angela Ruggiero, plus Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald Mariano and Representatives Jerald Parisella and Aaron Michlewitz

In the evening, former Patriot Julian Edelman and others are expected to be on hand at Encore Boston Harbor for a VIP event.

Final checks

On Monday, the MGC commissioners and staff visited all three casinos to ensure all systems were good to go before voting in the late afternoon to issue the three operational certificates which allow the wagering establishments to take the historic first bets.

“Traveling across the state today, the more that I’m reminded how lucky the Commonwealth is to have these wonderful properties,” said Maynard after the vote. “I’ve appreciated all the collaboration from each of the organizations that should be ready for sports wagering tomorrow.”


At a press conference at the State House, Gov. Maura Healey said, “I’m looking forward to implementation. I’m looking forward to more revenue.”

Estimates vary, but after retail and mobile are both operational, the state is expected to collect somewhere between $25 and $60 million annually in tax revenues.


Each of the three casinos is allowed a pair of “tethered” online apps. Encore Boston Harbor, owned by Wynn, has WynnBET and the Caesars app attached to it, with Plainridge featuring its Barstool Sportsbook app along with Fanatics.

MGM Springfield only has one: its own, BetMGM.

A second does not sound imminent.

“At this point we’re focused on the arrangement with BetMGM as it exists today and whether or not that other license comes into play, I think is still a question that has yet to be asked and answered,” said Kelley.

“It would be a dialogue we would have following the opening of the brick-and-mortar and then following the introduction of the mobile in what we believe will be March,” Kelley continued. “Beyond that, I think we would evaluate the pros and cons of moving forward with that.”

Watch this space

It would be a head-scratcher if it didn’t happen, so expect the ad space MGM Springfield and MGM Resorts reserves on the Green Monster at Fenway Park to feature the BetMGM logo. Red Sox fans, like those at TD Garden and Gillette Stadium, will be able to bet — on their phones — on the game in front of them or action elsewhere once mobile betting kicks off.


Kelley was non-commital.

“Certainly there are some opportunities there in how we introduce the BetMGM brands to the Commonwealth,” said Kelley. “Certainly that’s an opportunity we’ll be looking at.”

Michael Silverman can be reached at michael.silverman@globe.com.