Your New England Patriots are 1-3 to start the season and looking to turn it around starting Sunday when they take on the Detroit Lions, also 1-3, at home at Gillette Stadium.
DraftKings, the Boston-based sports betting site, has the Patriots as three-point favorites, as does Caesars Sportsbook. And the team similarly started last season with the same record and went on to make the playoffs, so it’s not time yet to start saying, “Wait ’til next year.”
Unless, of course, you were hoping to wager a few bucks on Belichick’s boys.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission held a sluggish eight-hour meeting Thursday during which they still couldn’t agree to a timeline to begin issuing even temporary licenses for sports betting to begin, SHNS’s Colin A. Young reports. They’ll try again today, but, even so, under the most optimistic scenario in play in-person betting wouldn’t get the green light until January and mobile betting would take even longer – late February, after the Super Bowl.
The process is a far cry from what the architects of the new law envisioned (or promised) back in August when Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill legalizing sports betting.
House Speaker Ron Mariano said the casinos would be ready to start accepting bets “almost immediately” after the launch, as they have been preparing for years setting up lounges and other facilities for this possibility. And Sen. Eric Lesser, the Senate’s point-man on sports betting, said the Gaming Commission had told him it would take 90 days to start issuing licenses.
“So you’re talking about maybe October that the whole thing could be up and running. So you know, pretty soon, and definitely for the fall football season,” Lesser said.
Clearly, he spoke too soon. Ninety days would bring us to Nov. 8, and the odds of that happening are slim to none.
I peg all this to the football season because the NFL calendar has often been cited by proponents of sports betting as the marker. When Gov. Baker first proposed a plan, he challenged the Legislature to get it done before the start of the season. That was years ago.
The website PlayMA.com, part of a network of news sites around the country covering legal gambling, estimates Massachusetts is leaving $5 million in tax revenue on the table every month this fall that sports betting is not operational.
“Sports betting has an annual rhythm with peak season running from September, when football season starts, through March, when March Madness ends,” said Play MA editor Connor Grootenhuis. “New markets tend to grow rapidly for one to four months post-launch, with the fastest growth typically seen for states that launch during peak season.”
The House actually passed its first version of the new law in July 2021, but the Senate didn’t act until April 2022, and it took another three months to negotiate a final framework.
“Massachusetts is under the gun to go live before missing out on a window of opportunity for rapid growth and significant state revenue,” Grootenhuis said.
— Healey would follow Biden’s lead on pot pardons
President Joe Biden injected some life into this year’s plodding race for governor, announcing that he would pardon roughly 6,500 people convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law, and order a review of the classification of pot as a Schedule 1 substance – the same as heroin. Of course, Massachusetts voters have already legalized marijuana and those previously convicted under state law can apply to have their records expunged. But Attorney General Maura Healey took it a step further Thursday when she said if elected governor she would act to pardon state convictions for marijuana possession, taking Biden up on his call for states to do what they can to follow his lead and rectify the “failed” policies from the War on Drugs. Healey’s position on marijuana not only puts her at odds with her Republican opponent Geoff Diehl, but marks a stark turnaround from the days when she fought against the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Diehl accused Biden of “pandering” to the left for votes ahead of the midterms, and while he said he opposed the decision made by the president he would respect the state’s laws on marijuana.
— Diehl’s ‘Bill of Rights’ for parents
Diehl and his running mate Leah Allen also rolled out what they called a Parents’ Bill of Rights on Thursday, packaging many of the mainstays of their campaign so far with respect to expanding school choice and allowing parents to opt their children out of studies they deem inappropriate, such as sex education. MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz lays out the details, but as you would assume the proposal includes the elimination of all vaccine requirements in public schools. Diehl and Allen have leaned heavily into “personal freedom” throughout their campaign, but the message has yet to strongly resonate with voters, many of whom support things like school COVID-19 vaccination policies. It’s also unclear whether issues like the choice of school speakers and access to school libraries, which Diehl and Allen want to give parents a say in for their children, is something of concern to parents. The Republican ticket is betting it is.
— Convincing the vaccinate to get boosted
As we enter flu season and concerns grow over another COVID-19 spike as people move indoors, the Globe’s Martin Finucane reports that 2.2 million of the 5.5 million fully vaccinated residents of Massachusetts have still received even one booster shot. Most people are now eligible for a new booster designed to be effective against multiple strains of the virus this fall and winter, but with the uptake of the shots slowing public health experts have warned that waning immunity even among the vaccinated could exacerbate any surge this winter.
— Tech giant vows not to weaponize robots
Just what we need to worry about – weaponized robot dogs. Well, Waltham-based Boston Dynamics says have no fear. The company helped spearhead a letter from tech companies pledging not to weaponize their increasingly life-like and mobile robots. Feel better? The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter has more.
— Braude’s exit from TV will leave a big hole to be filled
Axios’s Mike Deehan reported last night that Jim Braude, host of the popular and influential “Greater Boston” talk show on GBH TV, will step away from the show at the end of the year when his contract expires. While Braude will continue with his daytime radio show “Boston Public Radio” on GBH with co-host Margery Eagan, the move away from television will be a major shakeup to the region’s public affairs media landscape. An appearance on “Greater Boston” is a must for many political candidates and leaders. It’s also a forum every cycle for more debates than anywhere else, with Braude one of the most adept moderators in the market. GBH hasn’t said what it will do with the time slot when Braude leaves, but promised more on that later this year.
— Will the real Kevin Hayden please stand up?
Interim Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden prevailed in his tumultuous primary against progressive Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, in part by trying to knock down the notion that he would return the office to a more traditional hard-nosed prosecutorial operation. But without opposition heading into November, the Globe’s Ivy Scott reports that Hayden’s actions are sending mixed signals about what type of district attorney Hayden will ultimately prove to be. For instance, initiatives are underway to help move those with substance use disorders out of the courts and into treatment, but Scott reports that juvenile diversions are down.
— Some lawmakers say DPU not cutting it on MBTA oversight
During a legislative hearing on the Department of Public Utilities role in overseeing safety at the T, one senator said Thursday that next session the Legislature should consider a different approach. The DPU was the focus of the hearing at the State House after a federal review faulted the agency, which also regulates the state’s gas and electric companies, of not doing enough to fulfill its role as the MBTA’s safety monitor. While DPU officials said they were up to the task and needed to do more, leaders cited staffing shortages as a significant hurdle.
— Flood warning: Consumers warned about cars from Hurricane Ian
Buyer beware. Vehicles damaged in Florida flooding during Hurricane Ian could be on their way to the market in Massachusetts, where demand for used cars remains high, AAA Northeast is warning. Rick Sobey of the Herald reports some of the vehicles that will turn up for sale here have been deemed unfixable by insurance companies and sold, ostensibly, for scrap.
— Rescue plan funds will stretch broadband to thousands in rural MA
Some 16,000 homes and businesses in rural areas could get high-speed internet access for the first time under a plan that will use $145 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to fill in gaps in the Bay State’s broadband network, MassLive’s Jim Kinney reports. The state’s Congressional delegation announced the funding on Thursday, but a map identifying where the money should go is still being finalized.
— No takers: Dukes County treasurer position proves hard to fill
The position of treasurer in Dukes County on Martha’s Vineyard has been vacant since July and county commissioners are struggling to find someone willing to be appointed to the $100,000-per-year position and then stand for election next year. Abigail Rosen of the MV Times has the details.
— Amherst Council considers input on UMass chancellor search
Members of the Amherst Town Council want the community to weigh in on the search for a new chancellor of the UMass flagship campus, but concern over the wording of a letter means the push is on pause, Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. Councilors want to urge the search committee to find a candidate who will focus on relations with the school’s host community amid concerns about more students living off campus.
The Talk Shows
Talking Politics, GBH 2, 7 p.m.: GBH political reporter Adam Reilly talks with Elizabeth Matos, the executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, about the recent suicide inside a Bristol county jail and the questions it raises about mental health care, inmate safety and oversight. The show will also delve into the pivotal U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire, where Democrat Maggie Hassan is looking to hang on to her seat and beat back a challenge from Trump-supporting Republican Don Bolduc.
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m.: MASSterList columnist and WBZ political analyst Jon Keller talks with State House News Service’s Matt Murphy and GBH News’s Katie Lannan about this fall’s elections, including whether Republican Geoff Diehl has a path to victory, the ballot question about immigrant driver’s licenses and the latest from Beacon Hill on tax relief.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m.: Democratic nominee for governor Maura Healey is the guest with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu. Healey’s interview will be followed by a political roundtable discussion with Democratic political analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican political analyst Rob Gray.