Sports Leagues and the Red Sox Tag Team to Push Massachusetts Betting Licenses

Boston Red Sox logo baseball game Tampa Bay Rays
Detail of the Boston Red Sox logo on a jersey during the baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Julio Aguilar/Getty Images/AFP.

Professional leagues and teams could assist the ushering of legal Massachusetts sports betting next to or inside Fenway Park, if their recent venture turns into a successful one. The Executive Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs for the Boston Red Sox, Dave Friedman, passed comment on the situation during a morning panel at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS):

“We’re focused with the leagues and the other pro teams on a different concept which is what some states like Illinois, Arizona, Washington DC, Virginia, and Ohio have done, which is to say when you have licenses for sports betting, give the pro teams or venues a licensing opportunity whether you’re the license holder or whether with a partnership with an operator.”

Friedman further stated that he wants to see teams licensed for physical sportsbooks and mobile MA sports wagering. This shouldn’t be a difficult feat to overcome, considering the formal legislative session ends on July 31.

Sports Betting at Fenway Park

Shawn Fluharty, a West Virginia Delegate, oversaw the weekend panel. He responded to Friedman and asked whether the Red Sox are contemplating a top sportsbook whatsoever:

“It depends on what the legislature lets us do,” Friedman responded. “If that’s an opportunity, then I think we’d be excited to set up a sportsbook. We’d look at a couple of properties next to the ballpark.” Fluharty responded with humor, “I think that was a yes.”

Fenway isn’t the reason why there isn’t a sportsbook at the stadium. MLB doesn’t allow physical sportsbooks in the ticketed section of their stadiums.

Unconstitutional Advertisement Ban

Chairman of the MA legislature, Jerry Parisella, highlighted that college betting and tax rates are the main issues during his NCLGS opening address. Friedman, however, is much more concerned with the Senate’s bill that would ban advertisements during sports events.

“The Senate passed a bill in May that has what’s called a whistle-to-whistle ban, banning all ads during games which are unprecedented, doesn’t make any sense to use especially with the leagues already heavily regulating ads, and I think it’s actually unconstitutional,” Friedman said.

Will the Ban Be Avoided?

The head of Sportsradar US government affairs and former Michigan legislator Brandt Iden agreed that the ban is unconstitutional and needs to be avoided.

“I think that this conversation will continue to permeate around the country in these states that haven’t passed sports betting into laws until the industry steps up and does something to sort of curtail the advertising piece. ”

“This is a conversation that I think dates back to two or three of these conferences ago when we all got together and talked about [how] the industry needs to be the leader in this space, so the regulators and the politicians don’t do it for us.”