Poll finds 61 percent support for sports betting legalization

Boston Statehouse

A man makes a sports bet at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City NJ on Friday March 19, 2021, the first full day of the NCAA March Madness tournament. Last year, it was March sadness as the NCAA college basketball tournament got canceled days before it was supposed to start, due to the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

BOSTON (State House News Service) – Most Massachusetts voters have already made up their minds about legalizing sports betting and 61 percent of the state strongly or somewhat supports the idea, a poll commissioned by Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor found.

The slots parlor and casino, both of which have said they would like to get into the sports wagering world if Massachusetts makes it legal, said the poll of 500 registered Massachusetts voters revealed 32 percent of respondents strongly support sports betting and another 29 percent somewhat support it. Ten percent of respondents said they somewhat oppose sports betting legalization and 14 percent said they strongly oppose it. Undecided respondents made up 15 percent of responses.

“Massachusetts voters robustly support legalizing sports betting. This survey’s results show that sentiment is broad across all of the Commonwealth’s regions and demographic constituencies,” pollster David Paleologos, whose firm David A. Paleologos Associates conducted the poll earlier this month, said.

The most common reasons given for supporting sports betting, officials behind the poll said, were anticipated economic benefits, legal sports betting in neighboring states siphoning revenue from Massachusetts and personal rights. Officials from Plainridge and Encore said support for sports betting increases to 72 percent if the revenue it generates is earmarked specifically to help fund K-12 education.

Paleologos said that education priorities “are increasingly seen by voters as the most important public funding priority for new sources of revenue emerging from the pandemic.” For some people, Massachusetts is well behind the pack and cannot legalize sports wagering soon enough while others say lawmakers should pump the brakes and learn from research conducted in mature gambling markets before a further expansion of gaming in the Bay State.

The House passed a sports betting legalization amendment last summer, but the Senate has not yet truly engaged on the topic. The Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies plans to take testimony on a slew of sports betting bills during a hearing Thursday.

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