7Investigates: Sports Gambling

New England fans cheering on the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and putting some money on the game at the same time.

But this isn’t Las Vegas.

It’s Rhode Island.

“Tremendous evolution if not revolution for this facility,” Twin River Casino Vice President/General Manager Craig Sculos said.

After the Ocean State legalized sports betting last year, Twin River Casino in Lincoln hit a home run, opening this space were fans can watch games and wager on them, too.

“Now we’re just one of two in all of New England to place a legal sports wager,” Sculos said.

Massachusetts is expected to get off the sidelines soon.

So what will the sports betting playbook look like in the Bay State?

A large population with higher incomes and rabid sports fans.

Massachusetts checks all the boxes for what sports betting needs to succeed.

The Pats, the Bruins, the Celtics, and the Sox have all shown at least some support for legalized sports betting.

Last month, Fenway Park unveiled an ad for MGM Resorts right on the Green Monster.

Massachusetts could up the ante by becoming the first state where you can bet on sports in casinos and through companies that are only online and not connected to casinos.

Experts say up to a dozen different operators could get in on the action, many of them existing only on your cell phone, so you’d be able to place bets from the bleachers at Fenway or courtside at the Garden.

“The reality is our generation is used to doing things on their phone and having that access and for folks who don’t live in proximity to racetracks or casinos,” State Sen. Brendan Crighton said.

On Beacon Hill, a number of sports gambling bills are in play right now as lawmakers try to win big by taxing all the money sports betting companies will make.

Crighton believes the stand-out star has to be online betting.

“I frankly don’t think you’re going to pull people outside of their traditional illegal market unless you have that component,” he said.

Rhode Island initially hedged its bets, legalizing only in-person sports betting like the action at Twin River.

But revenue was low, so it doubled down, and now casinos will begin running online betting this summer.

“If this can contribute some revenue to some worthy programs in the state while at the same time giving consumers some protection, I think it’s a win for everybody,” Crighton said.

Two full days of hearings on sports betting legalization are scheduled here at the State House at the end of this month.

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