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Mass. regulators to discuss sports betting launch dates, return of horse racing

A customer makes a sports bet at the Ocean Casino Resort last month in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Wayne Parry/AP)
A customer makes a sports bet at the Ocean Casino Resort last month in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Wayne Parry/AP)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here


After a few extremely gray and rainy days, the skies will finally open back up to some sun today. Here's what else is in our forecast:

The future of sports betting in Massachusetts could also get a whole lot clearer today. The state's Gaming Commission is slated to discuss the timeline for the market's much-anticipated rollout, including potential launch dates, during a 10 a.m. meeting this morning.

What to expect: Regulators appear to favor — and have seen little pushback to — the idea of letting the state's casinos and simulcast open in-person sports books first, followed by the launch of mobile betting at a later date. And they could vote to officially move forward with that type of staggered rollout today.

Will we get specific launch dates? Maybe! But not necessarily. The agenda does list votes on in-person and mobile betting launch dates, but that's more of a legal formality to give commissioners the option; it doesn't mean they'll vote today. Since cautioning in August that the complex rollout will take longer than some expected, commissioners have carefully avoided setting public expectations around when the first wagers might be allowed.

Buckle in: If we know one thing for sure, it's that there's a lot on the agenda today (including discussion of many other rules and regulations). So, expect a marathon meeting. Check back here tomorrow for updates.

One other thing on the Gaming Commission's agenda: the potential return of thoroughbred horse racing in Massachusetts. Since Suffolk Downs closed in 2019, only Plainridge Park Casino has hosted any type of live horse racing (a less-popular form known as harness racing). But the commission says it's received an application to bring live thoroughbred horse racing back to the state. Today's meeting kicks off the discussion, but a decision isn't due until Nov. 15.

Who's behind the application? MassLive reported earlier this week that it's the owners of Great Meadowbrook Farm in Hardwick. They reportedly have a $20 million plan to build a race track and 5,000-person grandstand on the 360-acre farm.

The Boston City Council is going above and beyond Mayor Michelle Wu's salary increase proposal, unanimously approving a plan Wednesday to give the mayor and themselves a roughly 20% raise next term. It would be their first raise since 2018. According to The Boston Globe, councilors said the increases are overdue to keep up with the cost of living and keep Boston on par with its peer cities.

The plan still needs final approval from Wu. She had originally proposed raising annual salaries from $207,000 to $230,000 for the mayor and from $103,500 to $115,000 for city councilors. The council's plan would raise them to $250,000 and $125,000, respectively.

And finally, the news you've all been waiting for: free samples are returning to Trader Joe's for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic. According to company spokeswoman Nakia Rohde, most stores resumed the beloved perk this past weekend — though the exact timing is decided by each individual store.

Rohde says they have a "new approach" focused on new products — "things not necessarily on your shopping list." (That is probably good because it's still early October and I've already eaten too much pumpkin ravioli.)

P.S.— Swiss artist Dan Acher is bringing his “Borealis” light display to Kendall Square tonight through Sunday for its first-ever showings in the U.S. The thee-hour exhibitions are free and open to the public each night. But first, come to WBUR CitySpace tonight to hear Radio Boston host Tiziana Dearing talk to Acher about why he's trying to share the experience of the Northern Lights across the world.

Nik DeCosta-Klipa Twitter Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.

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