Legal sports betting has officially landed in Massachusetts, with the state’s three casinos getting ready for their first live betting Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET.
This is the first phase of the rollout, which will eventually allow people to bet on games using their mobile phones.
Massachusetts is the 36th state in the US to legalize sports betting. Charlie Baker signed a bill into law last summer.
People 21 and older can now bet on pro and college sports at Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, MGM in Springfield and Plainridge Park casinos. One can also bet on award shows like the Oscars and Emmys.
“The speed at which this has spread is unbelievable,” said Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College who studies gambling.
McGowan likens the dizzying pace of legal sports betting to a national lottery. The first state lottery was issued in New Hampshire in 1964. It took 42 states more than 60 years to implement their own lotteries.
New Jersey first legalized sports betting in 2018. Betting on games is now legal in most states.
McGowan believes that when mobile gambling goes live in Massachusetts, more people will participate.
“In the long run, that’s where the money is going,” he said.
The three casinos and six other mobile gaming companies plan to launch sports betting apps later this year. The state gaming regulator is aiming for a March launch, in time for the NCAA’s “March Madness” basketball tournament.
State officials estimate the sports betting tax would bring in $60 million in annual tax revenue, on top of an initial licensing fee of $700 to $80 million. By contrast, the Massachusetts lottery brings in billions of dollars a year, and last year more than $1.1 billion was returned to the legislature for local aid.
Experts who study the gambling industry predict a modest increase in problem gambling after its rollout.
UMass Amherst School of Public Health and UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences Fellow Rachel Volberg told WBUR weekend edition.
Young people, immigrants and people who have recovered from problem gambling are especially at risk, Wahlberg said.
Editor’s note: People who struggle with compulsive gambling can call 1-800-327-5050 or visit https://gamblinghelplinema.org to speak with a trained specialist for support.
Services are available 24/7 in multiple languages and are free and confidential.