Massachusetts legalized sports betting on January 31, allowing in-person wagering at the three brick-and-mortar casinos in the state. Internet-based sportsbooks were permitted to begin operations on March 10.
Acknowledging that increased access to legal gambling carries the potential for more problem gambling, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) partnered with the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health to develop a Sports Wagering Voluntary Self-Exclusion (VSE) Program. This program is open to people aged 21 and older, the legal gaming age in the commonwealth, and grants them the option of excluding themselves from legal sportsbooks, both physical and online.
The program offers terms of one, three, or five years, as well as a lifetime ban. Upon completion of one of the shorter terms, enrollees may qualify for the lifetime ban. The MGC keeps the list of those who are self-excluded and distributes it to all licensed entities.
The MGC also maintains a Gaming Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program, which forbids individuals from entering the gaming spaces of Massachusetts casinos. People can choose to self-exclude from sports betting only, from casino gaming only, or from both through a dual registration.
The rollout of the Sports Wagering VSE program was timed to coincide with the launch of mobile sports betting in Massachusetts and the NCAA tournament. The MGC and Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health provide support resources for those in need of help, and enrollment is free and confidential. To enroll, individuals may contact the MGC at 617-533-9737 or [email protected], or enroll online at www.gamesensema.com.
Recent research conducted by the Pew Research Center found that approximately 20% of the US adult population is now placing bets on sports, with the rate for ages 18-49 being even higher (22%). The participation rate for Blacks (27%) and Hispanics (24%) was higher than that of Whites (18%) and Asians (10%). Income did not appear to be a significant factor, as upper-income earners (22%) were only marginally more likely to wager on sports than middle- or lower-income earners (both 19%).
However, the poll found that the majority of respondents (34%) thought that the widespread availability of legal sports betting was a bad thing for society, with only 8% of people feeling that it was a good thing.