Legalized gambling still no sure bet

The estimated $35 million in annual revenue that supporters of legalized gambling say would funnel into the state treasury seems elusive as ever, if you listen to the dissenting voices on Beacon Hill and elsewhere.

While other states, including neighboring Rhode Island, New Hampshire and New York, have already authorized legalized sports betting, Massachusetts dithers, seemingly incapable of making a decision that half the states in the country already have managed to do.

The House approved sports betting last session. Gov. Charlie Baker, Sen. Eric Lesser, who chairs the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, and almost a dozen others have put forward competing proposals they hope will gain traction early in this session.

They all offer varying forms of consumer and public-health protections.

But that’s apparently insufficient for one watchdog group and a local state senator.

“We took a while and we took our time to implement placing casinos here in Massachusetts, so I think sports wagering should be no different,” Marlene Warner, Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health executive director, told the State House News Service.

And as for sports betting in casinos, that’s a nonstarter for state Sen. Jamie Eldridge. One of a group of lawmakers that previously opposed casinos, he says he’s OK with sports betting, just not in a casino.

“The argument back then, which I think continues to this day, is with people’s limited dollars for entertainment and for recreation, if it all goes into a casino, then that’s money that’s not spent at the local restaurant or museum or in the community,” Eldridge said.

In the meantime, our neighboring states will continue to cash in on Massachusetts’ fence-sitting.

Latest posts