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Massachusetts Lawmakers Hear From DraftKings, Casinos

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Massachusetts casinos and fantasy sports leader DraftKings expressed differing views on how to implement sports betting on the first of two days of hearings in the statehouse.

Massachusetts is considering implementing sports betting a little more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned law, allowing states outside Nevada to offer wagering on sports.

Prior to the opening gavel before the joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies the hearing officials at three casinos – MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park – provided a look at the wagering system they’d like to see which included them partnering with online operators.

DraftKings, which is based in Boston, testified Tuesday that it wants the state to allow online sportsbook operators to offer sports betting without having to be partnered with an existing land-based casino in MA. However, the state's three casinos feel differently.

“Land-based sports betting should be reserved for the commonwealth’s duly licensed casino operators and mobile sports wagering should be reserved for licensed casino operators and a limited number of daily fantasy operators with proven sports wagering experience,” said Plainridge Park Vice President and GM Lance George, MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis and Encore Boston Harbor President Robert DeSalvio in a letter to the panel. “These operators have already made tremendous investments and are large drivers of economic activity, jobs and tourism for the commonwealth.”

The trio also wrote they needed legal and regulated betting implemented in order to get a jump on out-of-state competition and that they preferred a single digit tax rate.

Also in the letter, according to the wire services, casino operators said that by limiting the number of operators offering sports betting it would give customers the best odds at winning “big.” They also noted that putting the games in the casino industry’s hands was the correct choice because of they already are under great scrutiny from regulators and have made multi-million-dollar investments through their facilities and by the number of people they employ.

Jason Robbins, DraftKings CEO, pointed out that states that have put limits on online betting have reported revenue and tax projections lower than expectations.

“DraftKings and our competitors should have a direct relationship with the regulator and that means being directly accountable to the regulatory authority, the legislature, and ultimately, the residents of Massachusetts,” he said in testimony submitted to the legislative panel.

Representatives from the NBA and Major League Baseball told legislators they want compensation for the potential impact of wagering on their sports. They support plans compelling betting operators to pay a royalty fee from their revenues.

The professional leagues also want to address with regulators proposition bets , such as which player dunks first or whether a player swings  at a bad pitch, which could open the door to integrity issues such as corruption or abuse, the AP reported.

Legislators are considering several betting bills, including one introduced by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker who estimates $35 million in state revenue once betting is implemented.

His bill, which won’t allow betting on high school, college or amateur sports, doesn’t require online operators partner with casinos. Casinos, for the record, would like to allow bets on college sports.

Sports bettors can find a list of USA sportsbooks using Sportsbook Review.