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Sports betting on mobile devices arrives in Massachusetts just in time for NCAA March Madness

Members of Drake hold a sign signifying that they are going to the March Madness tournament after defeating Bradley in the championship game in the Missouri Valley Conference NCAA basketball tournament Sunday, March 5, 2023, in St. Louis.
Joe Puetz
/
AP
Members of Drake hold a sign signifying that they are going to the March Madness tournament after defeating Bradley in the championship game in the Missouri Valley Conference NCAA basketball tournament Sunday, March 5, 2023, in St. Louis.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission plans to launch mobile sports betting at the end of the week. Casinos have been able to take those bets already for a few weeks. This comes, barely six months after former Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill legalizing sports betting. Now he leads the NCAA. Reporter Chris Lisinski with the State House News Service explains that the rollout seems ready.

Chris Lisinski, State House News Service: It seems like it's about as ready as it's going to be. You know, Friday is going to be the big day. Obviously, in-person sports betting has already been here, already been taking place, was here during the Super Bowl. But I think that mobile sports betting is going to be really brand-new territory. I've been experiencing the very same thing you have with just ubiquitous ads for it. And regulators are basically ready to go. They've done all of the prep work at this point.

Carrie Healy, NEPM: I want to talk about Gov. Maura Healey's budget proposal for the next fiscal year, but first, Chris, where does the state stand right now with funding for time sensitive bills, allocating money for free school meals, as well as that expanded food assistance that was scheduled to end March 1st?

We're close to getting this back to Governor Healey's desk. This was something that she herself proposed, got approval in the House last week, and we're expecting that the Senate could take it up as early as this week. So that would be pretty early March action with deadlines sometime in March or in some cases last week for some of these really time sensitive programs.

And moving forward, the headline from last week, Maura Healey's $55.5 billion spending plan for the state's next fiscal year dropped. Among the headlines, free community college education for some, new money for education and childcare, as well as a bunch of tax breaks. What was the big reaction to Healey's first budget?

There was a lot of praise for the tax breaks in Gov. Healey's budget, particularly from business groups who are pleased with the capital gains and estate tax reforms that Governor Healey sought and some criticism from progressive groups who feel that that measure kind of contradicts the new income surtax that Healey herself supported. Beyond that, looking at spending...a lot of a lot of favorable reviews for the early ed and childcare spending, the higher education spending and some of the environmental programs that are in line for major boosts in this spending plan.

And Chris, I want to talk about one part of that budget. It represents just 1% of her plan and it increases funding for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, to carry out the state's climate goals. What are the details there?

That's right. That's a 24% increase in annual funding for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs over the current budget. Healey says that that would allow that department to hire 240 new staff members, create a new Office of Environmental Justice to focus on communities disproportionately impacted by pollution and other environmental harms, steer more funding toward the Clean Energy Center, state goals to transition from fossil fuels onto clean and renewable energy sources. So, it's really reaches across a wide range of different efforts underway in state government to fuel a transition to clean energy.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.
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