Public Input Limited On First Sports Betting Licenses

A Massachusetts Gaming Commission hearing Monday was meant to allow members of the public to weigh in on the three applications for in-person sports betting from Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor

Sports Betting
Seth Wenig/AP

As the Gaming Commission prepares to evaluate and possibly vote on Massachusetts's first sports betting licenses this week, regulators got scant public input Monday on applications from the state's existing slots parlor and casinos.

The 10 a.m. hearing was meant to allow members of the public to weigh in on the three applications for in-person sports betting that commissioners will review in depth — and potentially approve — during meetings later in the week. The so-called Category 1 applications came from the only three entities currently eligible for that level of betting license, which allows for in-person betting and up to two online partnerships: Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor in Everett.

The only person to speak at the outset of the commission hearing, Plainville Select Board Vice Chair Jeff Johnson, told the Gaming Commission that the town values its "outstanding" partnership with the Plainridge Park slots parlor and supports its application to add sports betting to its offerings. Johnson said he could speak for a long time about "what a good neighbor they are every single day" and gave a recent example.

"Just last week, our food bank was approached with a potential donation of 32 frozen turkeys, if we could find a place to store them. Plainridge immediately stepped up and offered freezer space and didn't bat an eye when the truck pulled up and asked if we could actually take 80 turkeys," Johnson said. "Their responsiveness — whether it be to taking on 48 extra frozen turkeys on a second's notice or securely and safely working with a new sports wagering process — will never be called into question."

The commission is holding its hearing open to allow for any other comments on the Category 1 license applications until 1 p.m. Monday. The commission has given itself the flexibility to vote on each application during their respective hearings this week (Plainridge on Tuesday, MGM on Wednesday and Encore on Thursday).

Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said Monday that the commission will vote on the applications "only at some point after the respective evaluations over the course of the next few days."

Copyright State House News Service
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