It appears that DraftKings believes its home state will be among the next to legalize sports betting, or wants to make sure that’s the case.
According to the Boston Herald, the Boston-based company has already kicked off a Boston-centric social-media campaign and will further pump up its public relations and lobbying efforts. Massachusetts lawmakers briefly entertained sports betting legislation this year, and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission commissioned a white paper to study sports betting in the Bay State, but no legislation was passed in 2018.
DraftKings currently operates an online sportsbook for New Jersey residents, and is leveraging the success of New Jersey bettors to get the attention of Massachusetts residents. Among the social media offerings is one that showcases a New Jersey bettor who won $325,000 when the Red Sox won their fourth World Series in 15 years late last month. According to the Herald, the social media campaign is tied to the the World Series and some New England Patriots’ games.
DraftKings Is Already Running a Social-Media Campaign in Massachusetts as It Prepares to Lobby for Sports Betting
DraftKings is ramping up its lobbying efforts as state lawmakers are studying sports betting. In June, Representative Joseph Wagner (D-8th District), the chairman of the state House, told a local television station that sports betting would on the “front burner” for the upcoming legislative session and that he planned to have his staff research the issue through the summer and fall. The idea, as in other states, would be to gather information, hear from stakeholders and weigh the pros and cons of sports betting ahead of the 2019 session in an effort to move quickly, but not “so quickly that we get it wrong.”
The upcoming session runs Jan. 2, 2019-Jan. 7, 2021.
Since Wagner’s television appearance, neighboring Rhode Island became the first New England state to legalize sports betting when it did so in June. Like Delaware, Rhode Island’s sports betting will be run through the state lottery and the participating sportsbooks have more of a partnership situation with the state than other states. Rhode Island will tax its sportsbooks at 51 percent of net revenue. The state’s casinos initially targeted an Oct. 1 launch date for sports betting, but have not yet begun accepting sports bets.
Of the other New England states, Connecticut appears to be the only other one actively considering sports betting. State lawmakers held hearings on the subject in the spring. Several bills were filed in the state legislature, but none made it to a vote. Connecticut has two Indian casinos and the Mohegan tribe threatened to stop paying the state its 25 percent of slot revenue if it approved sports betting before reworking deals with the tribes. Tribal relations are a key issue in many states, as those casinos are not governed by the state, but often have compacts with the states within which they are located.
Massachusetts’ 1st Casino Opened in August in Springfield, and There Are No Tribal Casinos in the Bay State
Massachusetts does not currently have any Indian casinos, though there are two federally recognized tribes interested in offering gaming on their land. The state’s first commercial casino, MGM Springfield, opened in August, and there is slot parlor in the western part of the state. The MGM Springfield is just about the Connecticut border and is Massachusetts’ first attempt to compete with Connecticut’s casinos.
The white paper, released in March, showed that Massachusetts could bring in as much as $61.3 million in tax revenue from sports betting, should the state set the tax rate at 15 percent. On the flip side, with a lower tax rate and less accessible gaming options (i.e. limiting where sports betting would be offered) the state’s take could be as little at $8.6 million.