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DraftKings and one of the state's powerful technology industry associations is advocating for Massachusetts to legalize sports betting, arguing the new industry would boost the state's tech sector.
"We definitely see some opportunity for Massachusetts-based companies or even companies that are yet to exist to benefit from sports wagering, all those things, cybersecurity, AI, data analytics," said Mark Gallagher, vice president of policy and governmental affairs for the Massachusetts High Technology Council. "Those all underpin this business beyond the actual wagering and the casinos."
Gallagher said the council sees legal sports betting as a positive beyond a new product for DraftKings, which is a member.
"This is very much a technology business," Gallagher said. "Over the coming months we certainly expect to be engaged with policymakers around that."
Gallagher and others said legal sports betting will almost certainly produce a number of ancillary services, both for companies offering betting and players who are trying to gain an edge.
"Fantasy sports isn't the only benefactor of this opportunity. Broadly, fan engagement, which spans all sorts of things, will benefit from this," said Josh Walker, president and co-founder of the Sports Innovation Lab. "You have a real strong ripple effect."
Walker said companies offering online sports betting will need a way to ensure transactions are secure and reliable, and many expect a marriage between betting and streaming video.
"Everybody that understands how to protect transactions and do so in real time in conjunction with real time media, that's the strength of our local economy, it's security, it's payments, it's financial services," Walker said.
Those espousing sports betting's benefits to the state's strong technology sector are almost certainly going to be advocating for a law that allows a wide range of betting options, including internet and app-based betting. It is unclear if and how hard casinos will fight for it, but the state could decide to only allow betting in licensed gaming establishments.
A state Gaming Commission report earlier this year said the state could see as much as $61.3 million in tax revenue, but embracing a new sports technology industry in the state could be just as valuable.
"A lot of the focus is on central operators, like DraftKings or casinos, but the industry around sports betting is far more varied. It's not just the operators but the technology beyond that," said James Chisholm, director of public affairs for DraftKings. "There's no reason Massachusetts shouldn't be the country's sports tech hub."
While there are many still making the case for legal sports betting, there has not yet been much resistance from the highest levels of government. Instead, the main differences so far have been around timing. Both Gov. Charlie Baker and state Rep. Joseph Wagner have said they and their staff have begun work in preparation of a bill early next year. Friday, Baker said his staff has been meeting with professional sports leagues and other stakeholders.
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