The Massachusetts Gaming Commission ordered a study of sports wagering legalization and pressed for it to be put as a priority for a special research team as the agency prepares for the possibility of assuming oversight of the activity.
In July, the Massachusetts House approved sports betting legalization, however, the Senate, so far, hasn’t shown any interest in considering it, although senators haven’t publicly expressed opposition to the idea.
Director Mark Vander Linden is presenting the Commission with a comprehensive update of the MGC's robust research agenda. He is highlighting two studies, funded by the MGC, that examined correlates of at-risk and problem gambling among veterans in Massachusetts.— MA Gaming Commission (@MassGamingComm) February 14, 2019
Mark Vander Linden, the commission’s director of research and responsible gaming, presented a slate of five possible topics for an ad hoc study by the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) research team. Vander Linden recommended, and commissioners zeroed in on, a study of how legal sports betting has been implemented in the nearly three dozen states that have approved it in recent years.
“An analysis in this area would be done to take a look at, obviously leveraging [a previous National Council on Problem Gambling] study, looking at other data that may exist in other states, looking at how legalization has been rolled out in those states and combining that would allow us to have a better understanding of the likely impacts of the legalization of sports wagering in Massachusetts, should it be legalized, as well as what would be kind of a guiding path towards measures to mitigate that harm,” Vander Linden said.
It is expected that the Gaming Commission will be put in charge of regulating the activity and industry if sports betting were to become legal in Massachusetts.
On Thursday Commissioner Brad Hill, who voted in favor of sports betting this summer as a state representative, said: “I think this is going to be the issue that we’re going to be all dealing with in the very near future, and the more information we can get the better to help us as we come up and make our decisions,” reports WHDH Boston.
With that in mind, commissioners said they would be interested in seeing if the SEIGMA research team would be able to complete its study and report before June 30, 2022, which would be the typical deadline for a fiscal year ad hoc study.
Commissioners also considered assigning the SEIGMA research team to use mobile phone location data to analyze where casino patrons are coming from and how they are spending their money both within Massachusetts and adjacent states.
Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said she was torn between the two study topics because while sports betting is the more timely issue, cellphone data analysis could be helpful with both sports betting policy and other issues that have been on the commission’s plate for years.
The state’s 2011 expanded gaming law gave the commission the power to grant up to three resort casino licenses. So far, only two have been awarded to MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor in Everett.