On this episode we dive into the ever popular topic of sports wagering. We will take a look at the state of sports betting here in North America and how it could play out in Massachusetts. We welcome special guest gaming legislation specialist Ryan McCollum of RMC strategies. He has a group of sports bar and keno agents that want to be included in the sports betting law.
Before we jump into sports wagering today let’s cover some quick news stories that has happened since the last time we were together.
It looks like the AHL Thunderbirds hockey team is really helping MGM Springfield with its attendance numbers. Last weekend there were 2 games. Friday night was a sell out at 6,793 people followed up by Saturday at 6,132 in attendance. I attended both games and the bumper to bumper traffic up and down main street and thousands of people everywhere was awesome to see. Unfortunately for one person in traffic it wasn’t that awesome because he got arrested for being a complete jackass getting out of his car with an aluminum bat filled with road rage. Can we all just agree that driving and commuting is not a competition and everyone can just relax we can all get to our places and families safely. Roar comedy club at MGM also had an event that was 100% sold out. As many of you know I attend most Thunderbirds games and it is always terrific to see the hundreds of people walking over to MGM after every game. I love going over to MGM after games because there’s at least 1000 people wearing Thunderbirds shirts walking around the casino and high-fiving each other. It makes for a terrific local atmosphere! Unfortunately with all of the people it sounded like the hotel had a bit of a struggle on Sunday. There were unsubstantiated reports that guests were relocated to the Sheridan a block and a half away due to some plumbing issues.
It was also reported that check in times this week we are extremely late. One new member on Tuesday night couldn’t check into his room to almost 9 o’clock at night! There were several reporting after 8 PM check inns. I don’t know if housekeeping is understaffed but this is unacceptable with 255 rooms. Hopefully this is cleared up very soon.
It looks like there is a settlement pending in Casino mogul Steve Wynn’s lawsuit seeking to block the release of the Massachusetts investigation into the allegations of his sexual assaults. It appears that it will allow both parties to review the investigative report and proceed with a public hearing on the future of the 2 billion dollar water front casino resort. Don’t crack open the champagne yet.
Everyone wants to bet on sports but how should we do it? It seems like the hottest topic and gaming today. MGM has tied up three out of the four professional sport leagues. Caesars catching the much coveted NFL. The casino gaming industry is plum ready for sports wagering. Many believe that it will attract so many new players to the game that it’s worth investing millions of dollars in proprietary infrastructure. And for good reason this last Super Bowl season Garden State players legally wagered over $385 million in the month leading up to the big pigskin finale. Here in Massachusetts over $680 million was wagered last year on both real and fantasy sports through offshore accounts and other gray market methods.
It seems only natural that we have an educated rational conversation on how to best bring to light a practice shadowed for decades here in New England. Just as we have found through the legalization of cannabis and same sex marriage. We are proud to be counted on a list of states providing safe and accessible paths to such freedoms.
To better understand how sports wagering could affect Massachusetts and the rest of New England let’s take a look at where we are today. Last May the Supreme Court legalized sports betting for all 50 states to decide. To date eight states have legalized sports wagering.
Several other states are racing towards sports betting as well. Here in New England Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts are hoping to join Rhode Island with legal sports wagering in 2019. Even Virginia has a bill proposing that everything is run through their state lottery system. Their lottery system would offer an online subscription service. Players in Virginia are interested in seeing that they are a non-casino state. Mississippi in August 2018 joined the game allowing fantasy sports wagering with professional sports on its way.
Nevada allows online and in person casino wagering for just about everything including fantasy. Delaware’s online gaming rolled out in 2012 and 2013 with three land-based casinos offering college and professional single game sports betting wagers.
Arguably the most successful and attractive new to sports gaming state would be New Jersey. Since inception New Jersey has generated over $1.2 billion wagered on various sports in the Garden state. 63% of which was done online. Draft Kings accounted for 32% of New Jersey’s mobile bets. This is why Rhode Island is now pursuing with urgency to add mobile betting.
The Governor of New Hampshire just announced that he believes a state run lottery system through their lottery and keno agents. as could generate over $10 million annually for the granite state. New Hampshire would also make betting accessible via mobil devices.
A couple of episodes ago we talked about Governor Baker’s proposal to allow sports wagering here in Massachusetts at licensed casinos and slot parlors. The license would require a $100,000 application fee and a $500,000 license fee that would need to be renewed every five years. He’s interested in modeling it somewhat after the operational plan in New Jersey. Where an in person 10% tax is levied on all profits. And online tax of 12.5% is collected from all mobile betters. This I’m sure sounds wonderful to folks at MGM and Wynn. However there is a group of business owners made up of authorized Keno lottery agents and bar owners who are interested and being a part of that conversation.
An industry that has already been hit by setbacks it is reported that locations close to the casino have been experiencing a loss in business. With the possibility of being able to offer sports wagers and drink specials during games these business owners have banded together to in hopes to get the attention of lawmakers.
My special guest Ryan McCollum from RMC strategies as formed the Fair Play Massachusetts group which advocates for just that. I’m proud to have Ryan on the show and please enjoy listening to this 32 minute interview. Ryan is a political strategist and has a history of successful gaming legislation here in Massachusetts. That success has landed him clients such as Mohegan Sun. Ryan believes along with the other business owners that allowing small businesses to take part in sports betting in Massachusetts would bring 4 things to play.
- New Revenue
One of the things that stood out in the conversation that I didn’t have a chance to remark on was that Ryan said all of the keno machines that are already working at these locations would need very little modification to make sports betting possible. As he says the infrastructure training and workers are already in place all we would have to do is allow them to take these bets along with keno.
One of the big issues that Ryan brings up is some folks are not interested in linking their bank account through a mobile app. And that for some people having to physically put their hand in their pocket and fork over money offers some type of safety net for folks struggling with problem gambling.
What do you all think? How should the Baystate handle sports wagering? Do you want it only available at the casino? Or do you think it should be anywhere that sells lottery tickets? Please comment or join our conversation in our private group on Facebook. Follow the fun on Twitter @ArtintheG or find me on Instagram by the same name.
I’d like to thank Ryan McCollum for spending some time chatting with us today. I can’t wait to have him back on the show. There’s so much more that I wanted to talk with him about and quite frankly I missed some great points that he made.
Until next time players have great luck!
Check out the Fair Play Facebook page here.
Read Ryan’s article here.