PLAINVILLE, Mass. (WPRI) — With only a few weeks until the Super Bowl, legal sports betting has finally arrived in Massachusetts.
Machines are up and running at the three sites approved to start accepting bets — Encore Boston Harbor, Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield.
The state says sports betting could bring in between $35-50 million in tax revenue annually.
Mobile betting is still in the works, so for the time being bets can only be placed in person. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission said they are still working on a start date, which will arrive sometime around March.
Plainridge Park Casino General Manager North Grounsell said they are grateful sports betting is now available.
“It’s been a great day we are so excited to have everyone here with us today to come out on a cold New England day and celebrate so just an awesome day,” Grounsell said. “People have just been asking us for so long, what is this like? What does it mean for the property? We just couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Two-time Super Bowl champion Rob Ninkovich stopped at Plainridge Park Casino to place the first bet.
“I went [Bruins] to win the Cup, I couldn’t go with Kansas City to win the Super Bowl, I couldn’t go to the Eagles obviously,” Ninkovich said. “So I figured why not stay at home in New England, [Bruins] are in first place…I’m feeling like the Bruins are going to get it done this year. That’s why I placed that first bet.”
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Big names were also expected to place first bets at other state casinos. Encore will host several former athletes, including Patriots’ Julian Edelman, and MGM Springfield will have Boston Bruins legend Ray Bourque.
Dr. Rachel Volberg, who researches problem gambling at UMass Amherst, told 12 News she is concerned specific age groups could be vulnerable to developing a gambling addiction.
“That would be adolescents, young adults, college students, particularly college athletes, women who are being marketed to by the sports book operators, immigrants and individuals who have had a gambling problem in the past.”
According to the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network, symptoms of problem gambling include a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, preoccupation with gambling, among others.
Earlier this week, 12 News was given a first-hand look inside the new Barstool Sportsbook at the Plainridge Park Casino.
The casino plans to renovate the former Doug Flutie Bar into an entertainment venue where fans can sit down for a bite to eat and place bets on sporting events.
When it comes to college sports, bets will not be able to bet on any Massachusetts schools unless they are playing in a tournament involving four or more teams.
Betting is cash only and restricted to those age 21 or older.
If you or anyone you know is dealing with gambling issues, there are resources available including the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network, which can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-522-4700.