MGM Springfield President Calls Upon State to Move on Legal Sports Betting

Written By Derek Helling on December 26, 2019
Could be time for sports betting legalization in MA

While the Bay State’s government essentially ignores the issue of sports betting legalization, one important voice in the Massachusetts gambling industry isn’t remaining silent. MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis recently spoke out on the matter.

Mathis went on the radio to express his feelings. In summation, he thinks the time has come for the state to move forward.

Mathis’ radio comments on sports betting legalization

During an interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub, Mathis made the following comments to afternoon drive co-hosts Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti:

“The Legislature has been studying it. As you know, your Legislature is pretty deliberate. It took us a while to get the casino industry in here so sports betting is the next one to go.” He added: “It’s just a matter of getting it on the priority list. And there’s a lot of important things the state is tackling. So we’ve been patient, but really what we’ve got to watch out for is these surrounding states are really getting aggressive.”

The other states that Mathis referred to are New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. New Hampshire is on the verge of rolling out legal sports betting, starting with DraftKings’ mobile app.

New York has commissioned a study to explore the ramifications of expanding its legal gambling landscape. That includes addressing the question of online betting.

The legality of online betting is in question in Rhode Island right now, but brick-and-mortar sports betting is underway. If the lawsuit currently holding up mobile betting gives way, Rhode Island could become another state to draw Massachusetts residents.

Fortunately, the Bay State doesn’t have to start from scratch. As Mathis alluded to, the proposals exist. The Legislature simply has to act upon them.

Where the Legislature is at on the issue right now

Massachusetts Sen. Eric Lesser, the chair of the Economic Development Committee, had the following to say last week on the issue:

“It’s very much an active part of the committee’s focus and the committee’s conversations. It’s very much an active debate and discussion in the committee, and it’s something that we’re continuing to study and prepare.”

Lesser also added that because of the broad social consequences of sports betting legalization, the Legislature is being deliberate. There’s no telling how long that deliberation will take, however.

Gov. Charlie Baker, who proposed his own bill earlier this year, thinks it may last awhile. Baker recently stated he doesn’t expect the bill to become law before the next session ends in July 2020.

Regardless of how long the Legislature takes, facilities like MGM Springfield are going ahead assuming the day will eventually come. That way, when the time does come, they will be ready.

How MGM Springfield is preparing for the future

Mathis says that his facility has already identified a space to use for a physical sportsbook. He added that MGM Springfield could have it ready to go in a matter of weeks.

That’s likely the case for Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park, as well. With DraftKings headquartered in Boston, online/mobile wagering options could be ready quickly as well.

None of that can happen until the Legislature moves, though. With increasing pressure from people like Mathis, it’s possible that timeline could be expedited.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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