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It’s imperative that safeguards are included in any sports gambling legislation within the state of Massachusetts, to advise and guard against the potential negative consequences that may result from sports wagering upon introduction.

Strongly urged by the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, an appeal has been directed the way of governor Charlie Baker and the the state legislature, which would see a number of safeguards implemented.

This follows plans laid out by Baker who intends to file legislation that would legalise professional sports gambling in the state, which came a short time after three bills were introduced by senators Bruce Tarr, James Welch and Brendan Crighton.

Marlene Warner, the Massachusetts Council’s executive director, explained the importance of such inclusions: “Massachusetts is known as a leader in the field of responsible gambling and problem gambling services, due to the number of safeguards that were implemented when casino gambling was passed.  

“The Massachusetts Council would recommend that, similar to the 2011 Expanded Gaming Bill, any proposed sports gambling legislation include items that increase protective factors for players and minimise the potential harms.  

“Gambling is not a risk-free activity and we have a state that loves to gamble, these recommended measures would go a long way to make sure that people can keep their gambling fun and entertaining.  

“And, for those for whom gambling is a problem, we would like to provide a solid safety net to get them back to health.”

Amongst the safeguards recommended by the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling include:

  • Dedicated funds to provide for responsible gambling and problem gambling programs across the Commonwealth.
  • Designated regulator, such as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, so that they can further implement current responsible gambling and research initiatives to encompass sports betting.
  • Required employee training for all brick-and-mortar and online staff of both host and vendor companies.
  • Opportunities for voluntary self-exclusion and limit setting on time, losses and money in account.
  • Baseline research prior to sports betting going live, ongoing research on gambling behaviour, required evaluation of all responsible gambling programs, and requirement that all player data be anonymised and turned over to the regulator for future research.
  • Required signage and promotion of helpline number and online chat and text services.
  • In-person and online interventions for loved ones and employers to implement.
  • Minimum age of 21 to register and play.