Fans place their first bets as legal sports betting goes live in Mass.Play
About 30 people lined up at Encore Boston Harbor's new sports betting kiosks in Everett to place their bets at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the moment sports betting went live.
A casino employee counted down from 10, and then bettors punched in the first legal sports bets in Massachusetts while onlookers applauded.
"I’ve been waiting for this a long time," said Chris Dicenzo of Arlington. He put $100 on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl.
"I like to place bets, but not with bookies," he said.
Massachusetts now joins the majority of U.S. states in allowing people to wager on professional and college sports.
State officials predict the newly legal sports betting industry will bring in between $30 and $60 million in tax revenue each year.
"I think you’re looking at a potential gold mine," said Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano in an interview at Encore Tuesday. Mariano led the bill to legalize sports betting through the Legislature last summer.
But he lamented the fact it took the Massachusetts Gaming Commission about six months to write regulations and begin allowing bets.
"I really think they could have gone a little faster," he said. "But obviously they erred on the side of caution and took their time and wanted to make sure there were no major mistakes."
For now, bettors must place sports bets at one of the state’s three casinos. They also can't use credits cards to make their wagers.
The Gaming Commission hopes to roll out mobile betting on apps and websites in March. Experts who study the gambling industry predict many more people will participate once they can bet on games from their phones.
Some worry that will lead to more problematic gambling. UMass Amherst researcher Rachel Volberg, who studies gambling, told WBUR's Weekend Edition people should be careful and only bet what they’re willing to lose.
"There are some groups that we think will be vulnerable because of their lack of experience with gambling or because they're being targeted very specifically by the sports betting operators in an effort to grow the market," she said.
But at least on Tuesday, Massachusetts’ first official sports bettors were reveling in the moment.
"Being the first to make a bet and part of history ... it’s a great feeling," said Steven Lesslie of Woburn.
Lesslie bet on the Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl. He said he felt good about the bet for multiple reasons.
"One, you can stay local, and two, you’re giving the money back, good or bad, to Massachusetts," he said. "And if you’re giving out money, give it to the state in which you live."
Many of these enthusiastic new sports bettors will lose money on Super Bowl Sunday. But being one of the first to do it — that’s a feeling money can’t buy.
Editor's note: People struggling with compulsive gambling can call 1-800-327-5050 or visit https://gamblinghelplinema.org to speak with a trained specialist to receive support.
Services are available 24/7 in multiple languages and are free and confidential.