GROUP: PARLAY SMALL BIZ IN SPORTS BET­TING

Bar owner: We’ll spend rev­enues in state

Boston Herald - - BIZ SMART - By TAY­LOR PETTAWAY

A group push­ing to al­low sports bet­ting in keno par­lors li­censed by the lot­tery says the ex­pan­sion would ben­e­fit small busi­ness and the state.

Fair Play Mas­sachusetts– a Chicopee-based group of ad­vo­cates and busi­ness own­ers — has or­ga­nized to build sup­port for the idea.

“It is about be­ing fair to the small busi­nesses first and fore­most so they can be a part of this, and fair to the av­er­age per­son who wants to be a part of sports bet­ting,” said Fair Play spokesman Ryan McCol­lum.

Gov. Char­lie Baker last month in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion to le­gal­ize sports bet­ting, say­ing in a state­ment it was a good op­por­tu­nity for Mas­sachusetts to in­vest in lo­cal aid and re­main com­pet­i­tive with other states with the same reg­u­la­tions.

Un­der Baker’s bill, ex­ist­ing casi­nos and slots par­lors in­clud­ing MGM Spring­field, En­core Bos­ton Har­bor and Plain­ridge, would be al­lowed to of­fer sports bet­ting and of­fer on­line wa­gers by them­selves or in part­ner­ship with a third party.

State Trea­surer Deb Gold­berg, who over­sees the lot­tery, has said the agency needs to be­gin of­fer­ing its games on­line in or­der to keep up with chang­ing tech­nol­ogy.

“The world has changed with fan­tasy sports, sports bet­ting, casi­nos and on­line lot­tery in neigh­bor­ing states,” Gold­berg said dur­ing her in­au­gu­ral ad­dress. “We do not want to go the way of Sears or Toys R Us.”

Sup­port­ers of Fair Play Mas­sachusetts said the group is not op­posed to casi­nos hav­ing sports bet­ting, they just don’t want them to be able to mo­nop­o­lize it.

“It gives peo­ple a way to en­joy the game in a safe and healthy way,” Chicopee restau­rant owner Billy Stet­son said of the pro­posal. “Peo­ple are go­ing to sports bars any- ways to watch the game so why not give them a piece of the pie?”

Joe Sul­li­van of Nathan Bill’s in Spring­field said lo­cal busi­ness own­ers would do a bet­ter job of keep­ing rev­enues in the state. “When we make an ex­tra $2,000 what do us lo­cal guys do? We spend it back in this state. When the casi­nos make ex­tra money they don’t spend it here they give it back to their share­hold­ers like they are sup­posed to.”

The ini­tia­tive is in its early stages, but McCol­lum said the goal now is to build sup­port.

“We are con­fi­dent that if the Leg­is­la­ture, the Trea­surer and the Gover­nor re­ally lis­ten to our ar­gu­ments that they will agree, and they are all ca­pa­ble enough to get to­gether and flesh out the de­tails on how our idea would fit in to what­ever the fi­nal piece of leg­is­la­tion may be,”he­said.

“Folks around here just want to be part of the con­ver­sa­tion.”

STU­ART CAHILL / HER­ALD STAFF FILE

SAFE PLAY? Fair Play Mas­sachusetts says al­low­ing sports bet­ting in keno par­lors would see small busi­nesses spend­ing gam­ing rev­enues in state, ver­sus casi­nos like MGM Spring­field, who have obli­ga­tions to share­hold­ers.

CHRISTO­PHER EVANS / HER­ALD STAFF FILE

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