PlayUSA Rewind: Massachusetts Lawmakers Want Small Businesses Included In Betting Talks

Posted By Nicholaus Garcia on March 3, 2021

Last week was sports betting heavy, so I hope you like seconds.

Several states, including Massachusetts, Maryland, and Wyoming, are in the thick of discussing sports betting bills. On the casino front, Churchill Downs plans to sell a property in Illinois, and top operators compete for a casino license in Virginia.

On the rewind:

Small businesses and sports betting in Massachusetts?

A pair of newly-elected Massachusetts state Senators introduced legislation that would allow small businesses like bars and restaurants to offer sports betting.

So far, only Washington, DC has passed a bill allowing small businesses to offer sports betting.

This is one of 14 bills filed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, so there are options.

The takeaway: The appetite for legal sports betting in Massachusetts is present. But is there a hunger for small business inclusion? Again, out of the 21 jurisdictions with legalized sports betting, only one allows small businesses to compete with the blue bloods.

Not enough Maryland sports betting to go around

The outlook of sports betting in Maryland looks promising. However, not everyone is happy.

After voters approved MD sports betting through a referendum in November, lawmakers were tasked with crafting legislation that established a competitive framework.

The big-name operators are taken care of. HB 940 calls for 13 retail licenses; eight will be set aside for the state’s six casinos and two racetracks. The other five will be reserved for competitive bidding.

However, there are only 10 mobile licenses — all of which are up for bid between small and large operators.

The takeaway: If you think for a second that a small off-track betting facility, the Maryland State Fair, or the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (minor league baseball team) can outbid DraftKings or Fanduel, you are mistaken. Top operators have gobbled up mobile licenses in every state where they are available. Maryland will be no different.

Georgia continues to push to legalize sports betting

A legal Georiga sports betting bill took a big step forward after passing through the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.

The bill’s key points include a monthly $2,500 cap on money deposited into betting accounts, proceeds allocated education, healthcare, broadband services, and no wagering on local Georgia teams.

Opposition comes from religious groups who warn of problem gambling and potential cost to taxpayers to address issues.

Additionally, a constitutional amendment was attached to the bill. It would require two-thirds support from both the House and Senate in order to make it to the ballot box.

The takeaway: Georgia lawmakers are still far apart on the issue of legalized sports betting. Just because the bill made it through committee does not mean it’s a lock: baby steps, Georgia, baby steps.

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Wyoming online sports betting bill in the works

State Rep. Tom Walters plans to introduce a bill that would allow for mobile sports betting in Wyoming.

Walters envisions Wyoming sports betting would look and act similar to Colorado. The bill, HB 133, installs consumer protections and generates revenue for the state with a 10% tax rate on net gaming revenue.

The takeaway: The easy way to kill a sports betting bill is to call it a revenue generator. Yes, sports betting has shown to bring economic growth and necessary revenue to cash-strapped states. But, it is not a silver bullet to fill budget gaps. Thus, it should not be the sole purpose of any bill.

Historic Chicago racetrack to be sold

Churchill Downs plans to sell Arlington Racecourse, a property it has owned for over 20 years.

After acquiring a 51% majority stake in Rivers Casino Des Plains, the company announced an $87 million expansion that would add 2,000 gaming positions. So it’s safe to say Churchill’s priorities in Illinois are focused elsewhere.

Arlington Racecourse has struggled in recent years, but Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said he expects to see robust interest in the property and looks forward to working with potential buyers.

The takeaway: Much like a struggling sports franchise, Arlington needs a major rebuild. Top to bottom. Perhaps there is a buyer that sees potential in the 94-year-old institution. Transforming the track to permit all forms of gaming, sports betting included, could be the first step.

Six operators compete for Richmond casino license

Six companies are vying for Richmond’s lone casino license, including top operators like Golden Nugget and Ballys Corporation.

Part of the new gambling laws includes five Virginia casinos to be built across the state, including one in Richmond.

If selected, Golden Nugget plans to build a $400 million casino resort. Bally’s Corp. plans to build a $650 million casino should the company be awarded the casino license.

The other four companies are Urban One, The Pamunkey Indian Tribe, The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and Cordish Companies (operators of Live! casino resorts).

The takeaway: It’s going to be interesting if the Richmond City Council goes with the big name brand or selects a local operator. The big household names dominate the gaming industry, especially when it comes to casino gaming and sports betting.

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Nicholaus Garcia Avatar
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick has had stints in Chicago and Washington, D.C., writing about politics, financial markets, and sports betting. He graduated from Texas Tech University and completed his master's degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago.

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