The Massachusetts Senate Recently Shot Down A Sports Betting Bill, And Here Are My Thoughts On It

If you couldn’t already tell from some of my past blogs, I’m from Massachusetts. I was born in the Boston area, I live in the Boston area, and realistically, I’ll probably die in the Boston area, just like countless family members of mine have since my relatives first came over here from Galway

There are so many things I love about where I live and the life it has given to me, but there is one thing I absolutely despise about Massachusetts: Our politicians. Don’t worry, this isn’t gonna turn into some crazy rant where I scream about the ins-and-outs of Massachusetts politics, but it needed to be mentioned because it’s related to this blog. Instead, I’ll boil all of my frustrations down to one simple, relevant, and honest observation: For a state that is so smart, we elect people that are so stupid

Earlier this week, The Massachusetts Senate rejected a bill to regulate sports betting in Massachusetts. For obvious reasons, this decision infuriated me and countless other sports fans across The Bay State that like to spice things up a bit by placing wagers on games, seeing as we are currently forced to do so illegally. Being the sports gambling advocate and participant that I am, I figured I had to say a few things about this recent decision and my state’s overall incompetence when it comes to handling this issue

First of all, before I even get rolling here, I have to ask something: Why are we still having this argument? It leaves me completely dumbfounded that there are still people out there who are against regulating sports betting—an activity that is widely taking place anyway and whose revenue could benefit this state so much. Why miss out on all of the tax dollars that sports gambling would bring to Massachusetts? Why let surrounding states like Rhode Island and New Hampshire—who were both smart enough to regulate sports betting—reap all of the benefits from Massachusetts residents driving across the border to place their sports bets? Why continue to let bookies and organized crime groups have complete control over the flourishing underground sports gambling market that already exists here in Massachusetts? Why not regulate and tax sports betting just like anything else, and then use that extra tax revenue to help repair some of the damage that Covid has caused to local businesses? Well, why not?Do any politicians or anti-gambling advocates have an actual answer for me that isn’t just mindless, holier-than-thou dribble? Anybody? Bueller?

It takes a lot to piss me off, but reluctance and general stupidity from elected officials pisses me off like nothing else can. When decisions like this happen where I live and they directly affect something that I love doing, it gets me kinda fired up. So get ready for a lot of passionate words about sports betting, both here in Massachusetts and in general

I’ve learned that one of the best ways to construct an argument is to understand the other side’s position as best as you can. With that in mind, the only realistic argument I can see against sports betting is that it is a vice and some people have gambling problems. That’s true, but I’m gonna tell you something else that is way more true: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. I know that probably sounds like a profound philosophic statement that somebody like Plato or Socrates must have said, but it’s actually just a great line from Star Trek. Regardless of its origin, the logic still stands, with that logic being that you don’t make decisions and laws based on how it benefits the minority of people; you do it based on how it benefits the majority of people. Therefore, you don’t keep something like sports betting illegal from the masses just because a small number of people have personal responsibility issues and might blow all of their cash on stupid bets. Sorry to offer up a dose of reality about these people, but that’s THEIR problem, not everybody else’s

Also, let’s be honest here: Anybody with a hardcore gambling problem like that is already gambling illegally anyway. It’s not like these addicts are eagerly waiting around for the state to legalize sports gambling so they can FINALLY bet their mortgage on a football game. They’re already too busy packing a suitcase and ditching town because some bookie from The North End is after them for the 10,000 bucks that they owe (which is yet another reason to regulate all of this, but I’ll get more into that later)

And while we’re talking about addiction as a possible reason for being against sports betting, since when has the possibility of addict-related misuse of something stopped us from allowing things before? There are tons of legal things out there that people are addicted to. A lot of people are addicted to coffee. Some people are addicted to shopping. Some people are addicted to fast food or candy. Some people are addicted to porn. The list goes on and on

The world is filled with addictive vices, and it’s just so funny to me the extremely hypocritical way that little old Puritan Massachusetts picks and chooses how it treats these vices. Weed stores? That’s fine. Liquor stores? That’s fine. Casinos? That’s fine. Strip clubs? That’s fine. Junkies openly shooting up on Mass Ave? That’s fine. A Mcdonalds on every corner? That’s fine. Convenience stores that sell scratch tickets, have Keno lounges, and sell cigarettes? That’s fine. All of those vices are perfectly fine in Massachusetts’ eyes, but don’t you fucking DARE bet on a football game. THAT’S where the line has to be drawn. THAT’S where the evilness of vices must be stopped. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to roll my eyes so hard that they fall out of my skull

So even though I pretty much just completely dismantled the other side’s argument without even really trying, now I’ll get into some of my pro-sports betting talking points

To start things off, let’s acknowledge that these are rough times we’re living in. This pandemic has put a lot of people out of work, and plenty of businesses are on the brink of closing or already have. Clearly, and now even moreso than usual, Massachusetts could use the extra tax money that sports betting would generate (With some estimates being as high as 30 million in a single year). For a state that loves to tax the shit out of everything else, the lack of urgency when it comes to sports betting makes no sense to me. Like Senator Patrick O’Connor said about this bill, “It’s free money”, so what is taking so long here? Stop delaying the inevitable, do your jobs for once, and pass this bill that will benefit both gambling and non-gambling residents of Massachusetts

Moving on, I think that maybe some people are apprehensive to this bill, and sports betting in general, because they don’t understand how it would work. Basically, this bill would have allowed businesses to apply for special licenses to operate a sports book and take bets on sporting events. We already have 2 casinos in Massachusetts that are both owned by huge companies, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston (which is Wynn), and given their clientele and how profitable they can be, I’m sure both would be more than willing to construct and operate sports books onsite. This bill also would have also allowed online operators like Fan Duel and Draft Kings—the latter of which is HEADQUARTERED IN BOSTON—to accept bets through their easy-to-use sports book apps that other states are already using

While on the topic of online sports books, I have a little anecdote that also strengthens my argument and shows you just how stupid Massachusetts is with their handling of this whole thing. I have a buddy who lives in Northern MA now, right up near the New Hampshire border. Every Saturday he drives across the NH border, parks his car, makes all of his bets using the Draft Kings app, and then drives back home. If he’s doing that every week, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that other people are too. New Hampshire has been getting extra money for years now from Massachusetts residents driving over the border to buy things there in order to avoid the MA sales tax, so I guess it only makes sense to let New Hampshire steal even more revenue from us because our politicians are too inept to do anything about it

Speaking of taking profits away from the state, let’s talk about the current state of sports betting in Massachusetts and all the money that is being tossed around. Yes it’s illegal, but let’s not pretend like the laws are doing anything substantial to stop sports betting from happening. Most people that want to do so are still betting on games with ease through underground means, and that’s just a fact. Another fact is that all of this money that could be taxed and used by the state is instead going directly into the hands of private bookies and organized crime groups. Now I think most sensible people can agree that betting on a football game isn’t a big deal, but some of the other kinds of crime that these types of criminals and organizations usually also engage in are a big deal (such as extortion and murder). So if you want to take a stand against these criminals, why not hit them where it hurts the most: Financially. Passage of this bill would more than likely result in a decrease in the overall revenue of criminal enterprises across New England, so let’s do the smart thing and regulate sports betting already

Lastly, and perhaps most simply, how about we just let adults be adults and decide how they want to live their lives. Why is that so hard for a lot of people to understand? There is no legitimate reason why an adult shouldn’t be allowed to make a bet on a sporting event, and this is just one of many examples where Uncle Sam is stepping in where he isn’t wanted and trying to control something in an illogical and tyrannical way. If the government wants to tax it and take a piece of the action, fine. I get that. But keeping sports betting illegal altogether just doesn’t make any sense. America is supposed to be the Land of the Free, and laws that prevent adults from doing something as simple and harmless as betting on the outcome of a game goes directly against that idea

So, thats my 2 cents on the whole thing. I know that obviously I’m biased because I love gambling on sports, maybe even a little bit too much at times. Still, I think it is an enjoyable activity to me and many other people and should be allowed. If I place a bet on a football game, it isn’t going to negatively affect anybody except for me if I lose, so what is the harm in that? That’s why whenever I see people taking a huge stand against sports betting or gambling in general, I read between the lines and focus in on the truth of what they’re saying, which is, “I’m a grumpy asshole who wants to control what other people do with their own money and spare time”. If you really hate gambling that much and don’t see the point of it, I have a revolutionary idea: Don’t gamble

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some illegal bets to lock in for tomorrow’s games (allegedly)

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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