One city outside of Boston is tired of waiting for the state legislature to legalize sports betting. So, it’s voting on the issue itself.
The Everett City Council voted unanimously on June 28 to send Massachusetts state lawmakers a letter urging passage of sports betting legalization this year. The small city of about 41,000 outside of Boston is home to Encore Boston Harbor casino — one of several locations that would potentially benefit from sports betting in the commonwealth.
Everett Council President Wayne Matewsky cited broad public support for legal Massachusetts sports betting when he voted with the council on the issue last week. About 72 percent of Massachusetts residents support legalization, according to a recent poll.
“We are the only state around us that doesn’t have sports betting,” Matewsky is quoted as saying in today’s Everett Independent. “The money this would generate would go to education as far as I know.”
At least 20 sports betting bills are now pending on Beacon Hill, with no action since the bills were aired — but not voted on — at a June 17 hearing.
What Sports Betting Would Mean To Everett – And The State
Everett is home to Encore Boston Harbor, a state-of-the-art facility north of Boston that overlooks the Mystic River. Described as “large, airy, and glamorous,” the casino offers 3,000 slots, 144 table games, and a poker room with 88 high-end tables.
It is one of only three full-service casinos in the state — the other two are the MGM Springfield and the Plainridge Park racino just south of Boston. It is also a major employer and revenue maker.
Altogether, the Everett casino has generated over $218 million for the commonwealth since 2011, sources say. Gross gaming revenue totaling $53 million was generated by the casino in just one month this spring.
Sports betting will certainly boost that revenue. And it would allow a city that local sources call “overwhelmingly industrial,” and “not your bucolic, suburban neighborhood” to leverage sports betting dollars with new jobs and more local business.
What’s Next for Massachusetts Sports Betting?
Massachusetts has until Nov. 17, or thereabouts, to pass a sports betting bill. That’s the last day for formal legislative action in the current session that ends Jan. 4, 2022.
That means that Massachusetts has less than five months to get a regulatory bill through to Gov. Charlie Baker if it wants to have legal sportsbooks in time for the 2022 Super Bowl.
The chances that Massachusetts sports betting will be legalized this year are still pretty good, even with state lawmakers’ rejection in May of two amendments to legalize sports betting through the state budget process.
Massachusetts currently lags behind most of New England and the nation by not having legal sports betting. At least 21 states now have operational sports betting and six more have legalized it, with a launch pending.