DraftKings bets on Massachusetts

DraftKings is preparing to launch a PR push aimed at drumming up support for legal sports betting before lawmakers return to the State House in January.

“DraftKings is looking forward to lending our expertise and insight as a sports betting operator when the legislature takes up sports betting in 2019,” the company said in a statement. “Legal, regulated mobile sports betting provides the best mechanism to not only protect consumers, but to eliminate illegal offshore gambling, ensure game integrity, generate new revenue for the Commonwealth and fuel the growth of Massachusetts’ sports-tech sector.”

The Boston-based company has already started a social media campaign, tied to the World Series and high-profile Patriots games. Targeted at Massachusetts residents, the tweets, ads and emails include examples of bets users in New Jersey are making for these games with a simple message: This is exactly what you’re missing out on. One bettor, for example, won $325,000 after betting on the Red Sox to win the World Series.

DraftKings also expects to ramp up its lobbying and legislative efforts in the coming months.

Over the summer, Gov. Charlie Baker said his office had met with representatives of a number of major sports leagues about wagering, and has said the legislature should take up the issue in January. Last week, a Baker spokesman said the administration anticipates discussions early next year.

“The administration believes this is an issue worth analyzing and expects various stakeholders, including the Legislature and professional sports industry, to discuss it next session,” said Brendan Moss, the Baker spokesman.

Sports betting would have to be legalized through the legislature, where top lawmakers in both the House and the Senate have expressed interest in taking up the issue. Efforts to pass a sports betting bill would likely be the first step, with oversight and regulatory authority passed on to an independent agency, likely the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The goal from operators and regulators is expected to be to get the industry up and running by September 2019, when the football season begins.

While legal sports betting will mean more money for state coffers, tax revenue is unlikely to be transformative, based on early returns in New Jersey, the first state to legalize betting. In September, New Jersey betting operators took in nearly $24 million in revenue, a portion of which is paid to the state. Resorts Digital, which works with DraftKings and several other mobile operators in New Jersey, saw $8.5 million in revenue in September. DraftKings said it was responsible for the vast majority of that revenue, but did not say exactly how much.

Still, that number is significantly higher than August, and the industry is still in its early stages.

A report from the Gaming Commission estimated sports betting in Massachusetts could bring in as much as $61.3 million in tax revenue for the state each year.