BOSTON — Massachusetts sports fans who want to wager on their favorite teams are finally getting their chance as the state kicked off sports betting at casinos Tuesday, with online betting likely to follow in a few months.
The kickoff comes just weeks ahead of Super Bowl on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.
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 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.
At first, sports betting will be allowed only at kiosks set up at the state’s three casinos — Encore Boston Harbor in Boston, Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, and MGM Springfield in Springfield.
People must be 21 or older to bet.
The arrival of sports betting in Massachusetts is long overdue, according to Claudia Gabriel, who placed a $50 bet on the Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl and a $50 bet on the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup.
“I like the home teams. I always support them. I have not bet on them, but yet I do like supporting them so it just maybe something new for me,” said the 61-year-old Lowell resident.
Bill Dorazio, 69, a semi-retired New Hampshire resident, was also among the first to place a sports wager at Encore Boston Harbor.
“I bet on the Super Bowl. I bet Kansas City to win,” he said. “I picked Kansas City because my team is the Patriots in the AFC and I like to stay with the AFC when it comes to championship games.”
Massachusetts is late to the sports betting game. More than 30 other states already allow it.
Gambling addiction workers are also prepping for the change.
“We anticipate there will be a lot of new people coming in,” said Marlene Warner, CEO of the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health, a nonprofit that operates centers at the state’s three casinos.
The organization employs “game sense advisers” who work with casino patrons to help them understand the odds of winning. They can also help people put their names on a voluntary self-exclusion list to block themselves from the casinos.
Warner said one demographic the group is expecting to see are young men, which she said are also one of the hardest groups to reach with help for problem gambling.
“That is also the primary audience for sports wagering,” she said. “Those folks are already gambling at sports, often at harmful levels.”
During her campaign for governor last year, Gov. Maura Healey said she supported sports betting. It was a shift for the Democrat who, during her first run for attorney general in 2014, called for the repeal of the state’s casino gambling law.
“Looking forward to more revenue,” Healey said Monday.
Former Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill legalizing sports betting. He had argued that residents were traveling to Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York and Connecticut to wager. Baker is now preparing for his next job as president of the NCAA.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 ruled banning sports betting was unconstitutional.
The state’s expansion into sports betting comes more than 50 years after the state created the Massachusetts Lottery in 1971.
Representatives of professional athletes are asking officials in Massachusetts to toughen regulations to guard players and their families from those wagering on games who make threats against them.
WHAT BETTORS CAN WAGER ON
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission last week approved a vast catalogue of bettable contests for in-person wagers at Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor in Everett.
The list includes the following sporting activities:
- Australian rules football
- bull riding/rodeo
- field hockey
- ice hockey
- mixed martial arts
- rugby league
- rugby union
- beach soccer
- special events
- table tennis
- water polo
Are you new to the world of sports betting? Here’s a glossary of key terms to get familiar with as the state takes its first step down another expanded gaming path:
- ACTION: Any live wagering option or the total amount wagered on a specific event.
- BANKROLL: Money set aside, or deposited into an account, that is used for betting.
- BET: Any wager involving money wagered at a sportsbook, casino, racebook or poker room.
- BOOK: A book is a short-term for sportsbook or bookmaker, who offers odds and accepts wagers.
- BOOKMAKER: Also known as a linemaker, a bookmaker is a licensed person who accepts bets and sets daily betting odds.
- CHALK: Another term that bookies use to refer to a betting favourite.
- CLOSING LINES: These refer to the posted final betting odds before the actual start of the game.
- COVER THE SPREAD: A betting term that refers to the favorite wins and the match score is more than the point spread.
- DOG: A dog (short for the underdog) is considered as the side that would be least likely to win and tagged with extra pricing.
- DRAW: Any match or contest that would end up having the same final score. This would result as a PUSH and shall return the original amount of bets to the bettors.
- DRIFT: Betting odds that increase upon posting the opening line. Drifting is a Moneyline that increases from +220 to +225 to +230.
- EVEN MONEY: Odds that give back the exact amount of the bet. A $100 bet on American (+100), Decimal (2.0), or Fractional (1/1) odds will give back a profit of $100.
- EXOTIC BET: Exotic bets are money lines, game totals, and point spreads betting options.
- EXPOSURE: Exposure is the money that a bookmaker or a bettor can afford to lose on any bet.
- FAVORITE: Any side of the competition that has a negative number price.
- FIRST HALF BET: A bet concentrated on the first half results of games like soccer, football, or basketball.
- FIXED ODDS: Once a bet is placed, and the acceptance of the bookmaker, the betting line becomes fixed odds. It is also a term for Moneyline odds.
- FUTURES BET: A bet placed on a scheduled event in the future. This option is available for the Stanley Cup, NBA Finals, World Series, and Super Bowl. Futures bet is also offered in major horse races, golf tournaments, tennis tournaments, and soccer.
- GAME TOTAL BET: The over or under betting on the number of points, runs, or goals that will be recorded in a match or game
- HALF-TIME BET: Half-time bets are bets placed on the result of the second half only of a game or a competition. Bettors can place halftime bets during the intermission or once the second half starts.
- HANDICAP: Bookmakers set betting odds with a design to level the playing field.
- HEDGE: Hedge is a risk management tool that is common with a series of bets. It consists of placing wagers on the opposite side of a preliminary wager to create a guaranteed return. It is also used to reduce the chances of losing a wager.
- IN-PLAY BETTING: Bettors can place their wagers after the start of the event. It is also known as LIVE betting, where bookmakers can post several in-play betting options in major sporting events.
- LINE: Bookmaker’s betting odds post.
- MONEYLINE: Bettors should forecast the winner of the match or a game without any point spread as their straight-up bet. Underdogs have a (+165) positive price and the favorites with a negative (-185) price.
- ODDS: Betting lines for a variety of events offered by bookmakers.
- Odds Formats: The three main odds formats are: Fractional (1/1), Decimal (2.00), and American (+100).
- Oddsmaker: A group or a person that places betting prices and lines every day, like a linemaker.
- ODDS SHOPPING: Studying the lines from different sportsbooks to determine the best-priced odds.
- OUTRIGHT BETTING: Predicting a competition or a tournament’s winner.
- OVER/UNDER: The total number of points/goals/runs that will be performed in a game. Bettors will need to know if both teams will have a combined score that will go over or under the value. It is also known as game total odds.
- PARLAY: A multiple or an accumulator bet that contains two or more sides of a single bet. Each side needs to make a winning ticket. A parlay ticket will be voided if a selection ends as “push.”
- PAYOUT: A winning wager that a bettor collects. Once a bet is placed, the original stake is also included in the payout.
- PICK’EM: A betting option that has exactly the same odds on both sides.
- POINT SPREAD: Posted odds on a match that will level the playing field. The underdogs have a positive (+6.5) odds as their head start, while the favourites have a negative (-6.5) listed point spread.
- PUBLIC MONEY: The amount of bet on any betting option by the general public.
- PUCK LINE: The point spread in a hockey game. Before the match starts, the underdogs receive +1.5 goals, while the favourite receives -1.5 goals.
- PUSH: A bet that has a tied final result, and the original wagers are returned to the bettors.
- RUN LINE: Baseball’s point spread pricing, which the favourite has posted at -1.5 runs and the underdogs at +1.5 runs listing before the game starts. In live betting, the run lines decrease and/or increase during the game, influenced by the score of the game.
- SECOND HALF BET: Any bet about the result of any game’s second half. Before the second half begins, bettors can place their bets or they can also make live bets during the continuation of the game.
- SHARP: An individual who is a professional sports gambler that utilizes their many resources to determine the chances of their bets. Sharps always gather information and shop around for the best offers before placing their bets.
- SPECIAL: Identical to exotic and prop wagers, special bets are included to matches that are more than the common game total, spread betting, and Moneyline betting options. There are many offered special bets in major sporting events.
- SPREAD BETTING: Laying or taking points during a wager on a game or competition.
- SPORTSBOOK: A popular shop for sports fans and bettors that takes bets on US events, provides giant screens to see the game and other special sporting events in the world. It can be a free-standing shop or assigned space in a land-based casino.
- STAKE: The money that a bettor puts at risk in placing their wagers. Winning wagers will have the original stakes returned and plenty of bets are graded as a push.
- STRAIGHT BET: A solo bet on spread, Moneyline, or game total betting options.
- TICKET: Once a wager is accepted by a bookmaker, they will issue a receipt as the bettor’s ticket.
- TIP: An advice to bettors coming from handicappers and tipsters suggesting the best result of an event. Tips are helpful if bettors use them properly along with a good research plan.
- TIPSTER: An individual or a group of people that provides betting advice for bettors. There are also tipsters that provide free sports betting advice, and there are those who would demand a fee for their services.
- WAGER: A bet placed on any event offered by a racebook, casino, or sportsbook
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