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Massachusetts expected to see boost in revenue as sports betting begins

A photograph taken at a Wynn sports betting facility in Nevada.
Jonathan Cutrer
Creative Commons / flickr.com / joncutrer

As sports betting begins Tuesday in Massachusetts, it's not just going to be people legally placing wagers on the Super Bowl. While the MLB, NFL and NBA come to mind, bets can legally be taken on many other sports and entertainment events. Craig Sandler of the Statehouse News Service says the state is not really counting on a big payoff from taxes on sports betting.

Craig Sandler, Statehouse News Service: You know, I've always been a little surprised at how small the payoff is. You hear figures in the range of $50 million, which is small change on Beacon Hill. I think that they're not necessarily counting on an initial big take. But the fact is we were watching the revenue stream to other states, and it will increase as we go along. Matt [Murphy, former reporter at SHNS] would write a story twice a year about the lost revenue that Massachusetts could have garnered had we had sports betting in place. And I think that's really the dynamic. There's a feeling that a problem is being solved here, without denigrating, of course, the legitimate concerns that, ‘Gee, more gambling?’ And of course, it's an addiction. It brings its own social ills.

My head has been turned and other policy wonks attention has been drawn to the fact that the state lottery is starting to report profits falling. The state lottery never reports profits falling and that is now happening and it's because of competition. Well, this is, really powerhouse competition.

Carrie Healy, NEPM: Top business leaders gathered last week in Boston. The event provided an opportunity for Governor Maura Healey to get some face time with business and civic leaders. What were some of the impressions from that event that you took away?

Here's the overarching thing. She did not have tremendous news value. She talked about being competitive and helping employers with the workforce and being careful on taxes. Okay. She's said that before. She'll say it again. What was completely striking to me was that she lined her entire cabinet, the ones that she's named so far, she lined them up in the front row of this ballroom with hundreds of business leaders just jamming the ballroom. She had the cabinet secretaries stand up one by one, so all the business leaders could see them. And basically, at the end of her speech, she said, ‘Well, I'm going to go now, but my cabinet is all going to stay here and they'll be available to talk to you, right now.’ And that's exactly what happened. The governor left. The cabinet secretaries: education, housing, economic development, I mean, the people who now are running the government just stood there and basically had a receiving line. And people came forward by the dozens to talk about their issues or just say hello or get face time. That is walking the walk. And that was the real takeaway from this business session.

This week the Republican State Party holds elections. The party's treasurer claims its current chair, Jim Lyons, might have violated state campaign finance laws. This comes as the number of Republicans on Beacon Hill is dwindling. Is change expected in the state Republican Party?

It's so hard to predict. Jim Lyons has seemingly been around forever at this point. We saw what the result of going pro-Trump and anti Baker was in this election. I am loathe to predict. He's got a couple of strong opponents against him and really they're asking their members, 'Do you want to start winning elections again or do you want to keep on this campaign against the Charlie Baker crowd?' And we'll just have to see what happens.

Former SHNS reporter Matt Murphy has taken a job with the Healey Administration and we wish him well.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.
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