The Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl, the Boston Celtics to win the NBA Finals, the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup, and the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl.
Those were some of the first legal in-person bets placed on sporting events at Massachusetts casinos Tuesday morning as the state’s brand new sports betting industry took its first steps.
The launch of sports betting was hailed by supporters as a way to bring an illegal betting industry into the legal market and offer a new, modest source of revenue for the state. Now it’s a sprint to prepare for the big crowds Casino officials said they expect the Super Bowl on Feb. 12, when every sportsbook will be put to the test.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission regulators worked until the last minute to allow Tuesday’s launch, approving certificates of operations — the documents that allow sports betting licensees to facilitate betting — Monday afternoon for Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino .
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Gaming Commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein, whose agency has at times faced criticism for the pace of its regulatory work, said “we looked at that target deadline and met it.”
“We are committed to meeting the Legislature’s expectations and vision as we work to build this new industry, delivering a product for all of you bettors that we believe will be truly exciting, engaging and fun,” she said in Springfield. “But we did it by prioritizing its integrity, consumer protection and responsible gaming. And we’ve also prioritized through our assessment, diversity, equity and inclusion and community engagement.”
As the clock ticked down to 10 a.m., fanfare erupted at both the Encore and MGM Springfield, where Las Vegas executives, state legislators and Springfield and Boston officials lined the doors to cash in on the first series of in-person bets . Plainridge Park Casino plans to open its temporary sports betting lounge at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
A potpourri of sports legends was on hand for the day — Ray Burke and Sean Thornton of the Boston Bruins and Ty Law and Rob Ninkovich of the New England Patriots, to name a few. Most placed bets, with Burke betting money on his former team.
“I’m in with the Bruins,” he said as he handed the cashier at the MGM Springfield.
On Encore, House Speaker Ronald Mariano, who put $50 on both the Celtics and Bruins to win it all, said Gaming Commission regulators have been “very slow and methodical” in creating the sports betting industry. betting.
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“They wanted to fix it,” Mariano said. “They had a lot of examples of other states to use, so I really think they could have gone a little faster. But apparently they erred on the side of caution and took their time and wanted to make sure there weren’t any major mistakes. So you can’t blame them for that.
Former Sen. Eric Lesser, who led the final negotiations for what would later become the state’s sports betting law, said the start of betting was a “long time coming” after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the practice more than four years ago.
“One of the unique issues we’ve always faced in Springfield is that we have competition from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, and of course we’re not too far from New York either,” Lesser told MassLive. “The problem has always been that our surrounding countries, our border countries, are moving much faster than us. It’s getting to us. I think in the end our law is better and the bottom line will be stronger.
Some daily bettors who were in the casinos on Tuesday were also thinking about an interstate race.
“I think it will ease the competition,” said Matilda Bonfardecchi of Revere, who was at Encore and won the money against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. “They’re not going to compete with going across the state line and, you know, people are going to be happy to have it here in Massachusetts.”
At MGM Springfield, Mayor Domenic Sarno likened the launch of sports betting to a hat trick.
“It’s good for MGM. The knock-on effects can be very, very good for the city of Springfield and they are good for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” he said.
Statewide, expectations for tax revenue for sports betting range from $30 million to $65 million, a fraction of Massachusetts’ typical state budget, which has reached $40 billion in recent years.
State Rep. Gerald Parisella, a Beverly Democrat who also leads the state Legislature’s sports betting levy, said more than 30 percent of bets last year in New Hampshire were from Massachusetts residents on the Super Bowl.
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“Now we have a better product here in Massachusetts, our tax rate is lower, we have better odds for bettors, so we’re going to bring those people from New Hampshire and Rhode Island to Massachusetts to bet on the Super Bowl,” he said in Boston.
Former Gov. Charlie Baker, who now heads the NCAA, has consistently written an expected $35 million in tax revenue into several of his state budgets.
In an interview last week, Judd-Stein said she doesn’t have a “crystal ball” for financial expectations.
“We haven’t made any public statements about what we expect in terms of revenue over time,” she said. “We certainly value the economic impact that each applicant could have that would maximize the benefits to the Commonwealth.”