PPC and Encore call for current gaming licensees to be given the power to control sports betting
Two out of three casinos in Massachusetts are in favour of the concept that those companies which pump millions of dollars, and are influential in the gaming market, should be given the authority to control sports betting if lawmakers decide to legalise it.
Sports wagering was authorised by the House during its economic development bill, however, the senate did not follow suit. Therefore, this means that the decision to decide whether sports betting will become legal or not will now depend on a panel of three representatives and three senators.
A conference committee meeting has already initiated private negotiations in order to seek an adjusted economic development bill for more than three months now.
Casinos falling under Penn National Gaming and Wynn Resorts, such as Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park Casino, have most recently suggested that lawmakers should allow each of the three expanded gaming licensees the ability to take bets on sporting events in person and online, and that each licensee should be allowed to partner with up to three online or mobile sports books.
The companies discussed that they have been constantly working towards a well-established “robust brick and mortar gaming industry” in Massachusetts. This would be severely weakened should the state grant online operators permission to flood the market.
Within a joint letter drafted by Encore Boston Harbor President Brian Gullbrants (pictured) and Lance George the PC General Manager outlined that:
“Those that make actual investments in Massachusetts, assume legitimate risk, and incur costs to provide a service or benefit in the Commonwealth should be enfranchised under this legislation. Conversely, automatic windfalls to industries or interests which assume no new costs, risks or obligations as a result of this type of expansion are not only harmful to the gaming industry’s interests but even more so to overall public interest.”
Both organisations have invested heavily. Penn National has invested a total sum of $257 million, with $250 million going towards the development of its Plainville slots parlor while the other $7 million was injected into capital projects since 2015. Moreover, Wynn Resorts has invested a whopping $2.6 billion to build its Everett casino.
Nevertheless, PPC and Encore argued that current gaming licensees should be given the ability to control sports betting. The two companies offered their support to the Gaming Commission who would have the power to give an additional licence for online sports betting, presumably Boston-based DraftKings.
The proposal drafted by the House indicates that casinos and online operators would be allowed to take bets. However, during a meeting late last July regarding the economic development bill and the House's sports betting proposal, the Senate did not seem interested with the proposals presented.
Leaders of the Senate excluded the legalisation of sports betting from its jobs bill record and suggested it would be more appropriately dealt with on its own, but did not offer a timeline for action.
PPC and Encore are wary of what is happening and should lawmakers omit sports betting from discussion in Massachusetts, other states will continue to legalise sports betting and will probably cripple Massachusetts casinos' revenue.
“Sports wagering expansion by our neighboring states substantially affects the competitive posture of the gaming industry here in the Commonwealth and places us at a strong disadvantage, with Massachusetts jobs, revenues and economic activity at stake. It is imperative that sports wagering expansion in the Commonwealth be done responsibly, with consideration of the framework in place in the existing 22 states that currently allow for legalised sports betting,”
George and Gullbrants noted that “a robust brick and mortar gaming industry is just beginning to emerge in Massachusetts. As previously noted, its viability is affected by neighboring state competitive advantages. The public interest, and the jobs and taxes that our facilities support, depends upon a sensible regulatory approach.”
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