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The American Gaming Association has urged Massachusetts officials to focus on the core areas of which events to wager on, advertising and taxation as the fight for sports betting in the Commonwealth heats up.

The region’s sports betting bill is currently heading to a conference committee in an attempt to resolve the differences between versions passed by both the House and Senate. These concern tax rates, number of licensees, and the ability, or lack thereof, to wager on collegiate events.

In a latter to members of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Bill Miller, President and CEO of the AGA, has warned of the importance of avoiding policy decisions that “will ultimately undermine the ability of the regulated marketplace to compete against illegal operators”.

To this regard, Miller first addresses the issue of permitting or prohibiting the ability of players in the region to wager on collegiate events.

The AGA Chief Exec states that banning such bets would encourage consumers to continually rely on the illegal market, as well as hinder the growth and development of a legal ecosystem.

Furthermore, it is added that allowing such an activity would strengthen “the integrity of games and protects bettors, competitions and the athletes competing in them by enabling robust, transparent and collaborative monitoring by regulators and law enforcement”.

Miller added: “Importantly, banning wagers on collegiate sports will not stop Massachusetts’ residents from betting on NCAA games. 

“It will only force them into the illegal market and, similarly, customers who currently wager through illegal channels will be significantly less likely to migrate their betting activity to licensed sportsbooks.”

Miller also asserts that “advertising has an essential role in drawing bettors away from the predatory illegal market to the protections of the legal, regulated market,” citing a “massive illegal” environment fuelled via PASPA.

Moreover, Miller also points to the “critical” role advertising plays across new markets in informing the public about which entities are legal and regulated, as well as ensuring that customers receive responsible gaming messages.

In addition, Miller also stresses the importance of establishing a “reasonable” tax rate that will “allow and encourage regulated operators to effectively compete against illegal, offshore entities that do not pay any taxes or generate any economic benefit for the Commonwealth”.