Fair Play was established to advocate for Massachusetts small businesses to be part of the emerging industry of sports wagering.
There are 4 main reasons businesses should be a part of the new industry
MORE REVENUE FOR THE STATE & OUR COMMUNITIES
Allowing some lottery agents the ability to offer their patrons sports wagers will bring more revenue to the state in two simple ways. First, the profit the state will see partnering with a vendor is 4 to 5 times greater than just taxing a casino sports book or an online book. Secondly, there will be that many more places to process bets and therefore, more opportunity for revenue. Mandating that the Lottery partner with a third-party vendor that is an expert in the field and one with experience will allow the state to see more revenue through a larger handle rather than just taxing casino or online sports books. This third party will also take on and manage risk; so that issues of potentially losing money are mitigated properly.
SUPPORT FOR OUR LOCALLY OWNED SMALL BUSINESSES & THEIR EMPLOYEES
A large percentage of lottery agents are small local business owners. They have been providing our cities and towns with close to $1 billion in unrestricted local aid annually over the last decade. They are also the places where local citizens congregate and many are the heart of their respective neighborhoods. Allowing a number of these business owners the opportunity is a way to support them that will not cost the Commonwealth a penny. In fact, it will be a revenue generator as
was mentioned earlier. These businesses employ thousands of workers at various levels. Whether it is part-time while in college; a much needed second income source or a career in the restaurant and hospitality sector, these jobs are vital jobs to our economy. Many of them have expressed to us that they are feeling squeezed by the increase in minimum wage, health care costs and further regulation. This is an opportunity to afford them something that should help them retain and grow business.
Moreover, for establishments close to a casino that depend on sports fans patronizing their business, if they are unable to provide a safe and legal setting for patrons to place a wager, they will lose a portion of that business to a casino that does. They currently are competing in a market where they only have Keno and the casino has more games. They cannot serve free drinks but a casino can. They cannot serve after 2am but a casino can serve until 4am; giving casinos another regional monopoly on in-person brick-and-mortar sports betting will be a straw to break some of these long time local businesses backs.
When Massachusetts decided to make adult use marijuana legal, a large majority of leaders and policy-makers expressed the need to make sure local and small business people were not left on the sidelines in this new industry. We should be doing the same when it comes to this new industry.
Not everyone who would place a wager on a sporting event will want to download an app that is connected to a bank account or credit card to their phone. Many aren’t technologically savvy enough to do so, many know better about their own habits and self- control to connect a device that puts their money at risk at the touch of a few buttons and many simply don’t trust nor feel comfortable wagering on their phone. These folks would rather dig into their pocket and place a bet in person but with only 3 casinos in the Commonwealth a great number of people will have to drive 45mins or more to place a bet.
So the argument that people who don’t live close to a casino and may want to bet can just do so on their mobile device is not entirely correct and we will be leaving revenue on the table if we do not provide safe, accessible and legal places to wager on sports.
Revenue also left on the table is that of a casual bettor no matter where he/she may live. They may already be at an establishment and see that a game is about to come on in 10mins and then decide to place a wager on the game and stick around for a while.
GREATER IMPACT ON BLACK MARKET
Quite simply the more places available to safely and legally place a bet the larger impact there will be on the black market. Instead of engaging in a crime to place what may seem like a harmless bet on a game or two through a black market bookie; a person can help stimulate their local economy and bet at a local establishment and contribute to local aid as well. Furthermore not only is the act of placing a bet illegal but when you are gambling on the black market you are gambling on credit usually and betting money on the promise to pay if you do not win rather than having to put the money down up front. This leads to issues around black market debts that haunt peoples lives and sometimes end up in harassment and violence never mind providing a revenue stream to criminal enterprises that don’t just deal in illegal sports betting.
In conclusion, as a person who worked on gaming legislation in the past for former Governor Deval Patrick, I fully appreciate all the moving parts, countless interests and legal complexities that need to be taken into account as you work towards a final piece of legislation that will become law. Many of those issues Fair Play has no stance on one way or another and we remained focused on the sole goal of these small businesses have the opportunity to allow sports wagers if the Commonwealth chooses to legalize the ability to do so. I need not belabor the points; but we will see more money, we will support local business owners and their local employees, we will be fair to residents throughout the Commonwealth and we will frankly have a safer Commonwealth as we strike a more significant blow to the black market if we allow some of these small businesses the option to offer legal and safe sports wagers to their customers.
Fair Play Spokesperson Ryan McCollum testifying in front of the Massachusetts Legislative Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies on the need to have small local businesses involved in the new industry of sports betting.
“…we remained focused on the sole goal of these small businesses having the opportunity to allow sports wagers if the Commonwealth chooses to legalize it… we will see more money, we will support local business owners and their local employees, we will be fair to residents throughout the Commonwealth and we will frankly have a safer Commonwealth as we strike a more significant blow to the black market if we allow some of these small businesses the option to offer legal and safe sports wagers to their customers.”
How can I help?
Call or email your State Representative and State Senator and simply say that you strongly believe that your local Keno operator should be able to offer sports wagers. If you do not know who they are Click Here and plug in your address; you can. then click on your State Senator and State Representative and see their contact info.
Remember to remind them in your call or email that allowing some Keno operators to offer sports betting means more money for the cities & towns, helping small businesses and their employees, a more fair system for places without casinos and more fair to businesses around casinos and lastly the more places where an adult can safely and legally bet on sports the bigger dent it will make on the black market.
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