After Boston Celtics win, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urges Beacon Hill to legalize sports betting

Gov. Charlie Baker brandished the Boston Celtics’ victory over the Golden State Warriors Thursday as his latest argument in favor of legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts.

Bay Staters had to cross over state lines — including to Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York — to place wagers on Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Baker lamented Friday afternoon to reporters.

“There are a lot of people who literally just drive out of Massachusetts so that they can bet on sports, and it’s happening all over the country,” Baker said. “And without a legal way to do this, it’s a little bit like the marijuana issue. You just leave the black market there, and you don’t sort of bring it out of the shadows and make it part of the regular crime. I think we should do that.”

A much-anticipated bill authorizing sports betting in Massachusetts is lodged in conference committee, as House and Senate committee members negotiate key differences in their legislation, including whether to allow collegiate sports betting. House Speaker Ron Mariano has said omitting that provision would be a dealbreaker, though the Senate’s version — replete with consumer protections to curtail problem gambling — did not include betting on college sports.

Baker on Friday joked that it was a mistake he didn’t bet on the NBA Finals outcome.

“I should have reached out to Gov. Newsom,” Baker said. “We’ll reach out to his office to see.”

Baker also praised the Celtics for their resiliency Thursday in San Francisco but wouldn’t predict whether the team could sweep the Warriors.

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“They went out to play the Warriors on the Warriors’ home court, where the Warriors had hundreds of games worth of NBA Finals’ experience, and the Boston Celtics had no games and finals experience, and of course the Warriors have not lost once in the playoffs since they began,” Baker said. “And they were kind of banged up too, and they beat them — and they beat them in the fourth quarter.”

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