US Sports Betting Supported By New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox

Posted on: July 5, 2018, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: July 5, 2018, 02:39h.

Massachusetts lawmakers may be taking a wait-and-see approach to legalizing sports betting, but they have the support of the Patriots’ Jonathan Kraft and the Red Sox’s Sam Kennedy, the top brass from Boston’s top sports teams.

Jonathan Kraft of New England Patriots
Jonathan Kraft of the New England Patriots believes sports betting will soon become “normal” in America, as it is in parts of Europe. He said this week he is excited about the potential for increased fan engagement in games. (Image: Tom Pennington/Getty)

In an interview this week with the Eagle Tribune, Kraft said the Supreme Court’s decision to reject the federal ban on state-sanctioned sports betting “has created a huge opportunity for sports owners across the country to not only grow their fanbases, but those fanbases will become more engaged in following pro sports.”

Kraft mentioned that he has also experienced sports betting in stadiums in Europe, adding that he did not recall of any “real scandal.”

“It’s just normal over there,” he said. “I think it will be here, too. And with a lot of work, it can help make sports more exciting in our country. I’m all for that.”

“It’s going to be fun watching this play out,” he added.

Past Trauma

Both the NFL’s and MLB’s longstanding distaste for sports betting has been fueled by past match-fixing scandals.

For the NFL, it’s a hangover from the forties and fifties, when the sport was plagued by integrity issues. The notable scandal, perhaps, was in 1946, when New York Giants players Merle Hapes and Frank Filchock were bribed to throw the NFL Championship game against the Chicago Bears.

MLB, meanwhile, has never quite gotten over the fixing of the 1919 World Series, allegedly by gambler Arnold Rothstein. Much of the match-fixing of the past was related to poor wages for players — not so much of a problem today.

While Kennedy acknowledges that “the times are different,” he underlined to the Tribune that, for MLB, the integrity of the game will always be a number-one priority — although he believes sports betting need not be a negative thing.

“I’ve been to Liverpool [soccer games] and seen the betting go on, and it’s been a positive thing over there,” said Kennedy. “You can not only bet in betting parlors all over, but inside the stadium there are kiosks where fans can bet on the outcomes. It’s part of their culture.”

The New Normal

Two dozen states are currently either pushing, considering sports betting legislation, or have already legalized it, according to the American Gaming Association.

In New England, Rhode Island lawmakers have already legalized sports betting, while the governor of Massachusetts’ neighbor Connecticut is prepared to call a special session to try to get the job done this year.

But Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has said that while he believes the legislature will look seriously at sports betting next year, it was too complex an issue to be fast tracked.

Despite individual states and their varying stages of acceptance, it is clearly evident that sports betting has momentum and it’s a good bet that we will see further expansion of regulated sports betting in the future.