Massachusetts’ Casinos Vying to Control Sports Betting Market

Two casino operators in Massachusetts have claimed to have a leadership role in the sports betting market in the state once it is regulated.

These two companies, Penn National and Wynn Resorts, maintained that since they invested millions of dollars and hired thousands of individuals to work at The Bay State, they should be the ones to control the sports betting world here once it is legalized. Both these entities are against state lawmakers simply handing sports wagering to any operation but themselves.

Massachusetts is seeking to pass a sports betting bill, but the legislative process may drag until 2021. Earlier, the House passed an economic development bill that included regulated sports betting. The Senate did not authorize sports betting on the bill but favored creating another bill in the state.

What is Their Argument?

The argument is that casinos have been toiling to establish land-based sports betting in Massachusetts and allowing online sportsbook operators to flood the market would undermine the traditional casino business. In a joint letter written in late October, leaders of Penn National and Wynn Resorts called for most sports betting licenses in Massachusetts to be under their control.

According to State House News Service, “Those that make actual investments in the state take a legitimate risk, and incur costs to offer a service in the Commonwealth should be enfranchised under this regulation. Conversely, automatic windfalls to industries or interests which involved no new costs, risks or obligations as a result of this kind of expansion are not only detrimental to the gaming industry’s interests but even more so to the overall public interest.”

The two major casinos have taken a firm position to make sure they get a fair share if online sports betting sites try to flood the Massachusetts industry.

What Do They Actually Want?

The joint letter from the leaders of Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor, operated by Penn National and Wynn Resorts, respectively, called for the state’s three casino operators, which also includes MGM Resorts, be allowed to take bets sports betting on in-person and online events. The letter also suggested that the three operators should be granted a license to partner with up to three online or mobile sportsbooks.

Penn National invested $250 million to build its Plainville slots parlor and further spent $7 million into capital projects since inaugurating in 2015. Wynn spent $2.6 billion to build its Everett Casino.

Massachusetts, An Entrenched Battleground

Penn National and Wynn Casino are preparing to take Massachusetts sports betting head-on, vying to claim leadership to preempt the emerging online industry that is defining new trends in the US gambling industry.

Both casinos are particularly against DraftKings, claiming the Boston-based online sportsbook has not invested into the Commonwealth. However, according to reports, DraftKings has made an investment in the Bay State, though the numbers have not been revealed.

A joint statement by PPC and Encore read, “Sports wagering expansion by our neighboring states significantly affects the competitive posture of the industry here and places us at a considerable disadvantage, with Massachusetts jobs, revenues, and economic activity at stake.”

In any case, Massachusetts casinos and sportsbook operators will seek to influence lawmakers into creating regulation that will benefit them. Currently, it has boiled down into a Penn vs. DraftKings battle in the state. There’s still a slim chance to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts this year. However, 2021 appears to be a more realistic target.

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