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Casinos, DraftKings make pitch for sports betting

Boston Herald logo Boston Herald 5/28/2019 Mary Markos
a man wearing a suit and tie: SPRINGFIELD, MA - MAY 23: MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis speaks during a meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in Springfield, Massachusetts on May 23, 2019. (Staff Photo By Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald) © Provided by MediaNews Group d/b/a Digital First Media SPRINGFIELD, MA - MAY 23: MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis speaks during a meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in Springfield, Massachusetts on May 23, 2019. (Staff Photo By Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

The three casinos of Massachusetts are making their case about why they and fantasy sports firms should handle the digital sports books together as lawmakers consider legalizing sports betting.

“I can tell you, it was not an easy task to get our three companies to agree on some of those items,” MGM Springfield President and COO Mike Mathis said, “but there was a lot of commonality in the way we view our recommendation in terms of the way to approach introducing sports betting in the commonwealth.”

Mathis, Encore Boston Harbor President Robert DeSalvio and Plainridge Park Casino Vice President Lance George submitted a letter to the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies during an all-day hearing at the State House on Tuesday. Mathis stressed that “speed is of the essence,” as other states move toward legalizing sports betting.

DraftKings is on board, with CEO and co-founder Jason Robins arguing that the goal of sports betting legislation should be eliminating the illegal market. Sports leagues, advocates and legislators gave invite-only testimony as well.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein pointed to research that shows sports gambling participation has been trending upward over the last 5 years, from 12.6% of Massachusetts residents in 2013 to 16.8% in 2016. The commission raised questions about which sports should be bet on, mandated use of official data and how to tax it.

Marlene Warner, executive director of the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, emphasized that the Legislature needs to make sure that protective measures are taken for players.

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