MA Casinos prepare to welcome big crowds for first major sporting event with legalized betting

PLAINVILLE, Mass. — Massachusetts’ three casinos are preparing to welcome big crowds ready to bet on the Super Bowl, as it’s the first major sporting event people can legally wager on in the state.

Encore in Everett, Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, and MGM Springfield launched their own sportsbooks nearly two weeks ago.

At Plainridge Park Casino, people can place more than 800 wagers on the Super Bowl alone, from the points each team will score, to who will be named MVP, to whether the game will end with a Scorigami (a final score never seen before in the NFL). “It turns your casual fan now into somebody who has a rooting interest in the game,” said Ryan Blake, manager of the sportsbook at Plainridge. “Somebody who wouldn’t necessarily care about the Chiefs or the Eagles otherwise, now they have a side to root for.”

Plainridge Park Casino General Manager North Grounsell said Saturday was the busiest day for sports betting the casino has seen.

“We’re seeing folks who are saying, ‘this is the first time I’ve ever placed a sports bet, I don’t know what to do,” to the person who is saying, ‘I want to do a teaser with a parlay and I want to do all of these different things’,” said Grounsell. “So whatever it is folks are in to, we have staff here who is able to walk them through it and help them understand what they need to do.”

Lawmakers estimate sports betting could generate about $60 million in annual tax revenue and $70 million to $80 million in initial licensing fees, which must be renewed every five years. The law includes a 15% tax on in-person wagering and a 20% tax on mobile wagering.

While the law allows betting on college sports, wagering on in-state colleges and universities won’t be allowed unless those schools are playing in a national tournament, including the NCAA basketball tournaments.

All wagers must be made in-person, for now. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has proposed starting online sports betting on March 10 – just days before the start of the NCAA March Madness tournament.

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