When Gov. Charlie Baker legalized sports betting in Massachusetts on Aug. 10, struggling bars and restaurants gained a glimmer of hope.
Massachusetts law requires a study of sports betting kiosks be conducted by Dec. 31. of this year that addresses their potential impact on everything from the local economy to public health.
MA sports betting kiosks to receive review
Now that MA sports betting is legal, Massachusetts Gaming Commission officials are tasked with creating a system that works for gamblers, casinos and small businesses alike.
To address the latter two, the MGC must provide a feasibility study for sports betting kiosks. These such kiosks are small terminals that allow patrons to place bets on sporting events. The machines are on their way to Ohio.
But would these kiosks work in Massachusetts? State Sen. John Velis hopes so.
“Sports betting is going to be an entirely new industry in Massachusetts. And I do believe it’s important that we consider how we can make sure the smaller businesses in our communities, our bars and restaurants, are benefiting from the industry in addition to the casinos and online licensees.”
Commissioners met publicly on Aug. 11 and discussed sports betting at their regular meeting. The study was not discussed at that time.
Sports betting kiosk study specifics
As outlined by the law, the MGC’s study must include at least the following 10 data points:
- Economic impact on restaurants and bars that sell alcohol for on-premises consumption
- Which locations could operate kiosks
- Economic impact on the state
- Types of payout methods
- Health and safety impact
- Effects on problem gambling
- Effect on minors
- Impact on businesses owned by people of color
- Impact on public health and economy in relation to kiosks replacing black market wagering
- Recommendations for diversity, equity and inclusion measures
Basically, the MGC is interested in how kiosks will affect revenue, retailers, gamblers and public health.
Velis said it’s important to get sports betting right in Massachusetts.
“Getting sports betting across the finish line this session was no easy hurdle. And while I still do believe it’s important we think of our small businesses, I am glad that we finally have at least some form of sports betting in Massachusetts.”
Ohio bringing sports betting kiosks to grocery stores
Kiosks provide a way for neighborhood retailers like bars and restaurants to get a cut of sports betting revenue. Typically, a retailer applies for a license, gets approval and installs machines.
Ohio will launch sports betting on Jan. 1. Kiosks are a part of that plan. Currently, the state has pre-approved more than 1,000 businesses to offer sports-betting kiosks. Ohio could provide a model for Massachusetts, Velis said.
“I think it’s always useful to have other states to look at to see how things are going and what best practices might look like. Obviously, Maryland and Ohio are very different from Massachusetts, but they are real examples of how this works and what it looks like.”
Ohio is bringing sports betting to lottery retailers who choose to apply for kiosks, in addition to online and retail sportsbook betting. However, MA’s law mentions studying the feasibility for “bars and restaurants” specifically, though that scope could widen. Ohio also allows betting in places like grocery stores that are also lottery retailers.