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Massachusetts Gaming Commission awards Springfield grant to study youth gambling

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has decided to award the city of Springfield a grant to combat gambling-related harm among youth, the commission announced Friday.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has decided to award the City of Springfield a grant of $275,000

In addition, commissioners voted to award Springfield a $275,000 grant from the Massachusetts Community Mitigation Fund (MCMF). The commission awards grants to help communities cover the costs of building and operating gaming facilities.

Since 2015, the MCMF has provided $48 million to support initiatives in transportation, community planning, workforce development and public safety.

The Springfield grant will help the city fund research and better understand the factors surrounding problem gambling among young people, which will help improve prevention and treatment efforts.

In fact, the Commissioners took the decision to allocate the funds at a public meeting on Thursday.

“Understanding the gambling-related harms faced by young people will have a direct impact on the strategies developed to prevent and mitigate those harms in the future,” interim chair Jordan Maynard said in a press release on Friday.

“Working directly with engaged young people in Springfield will help researchers and the commission fully understand the impact of gambling on this population and lead to additional programs to mitigate potential harm.”

More importantly, the approved funds will be used for research projects including digital storytelling and crowdsourcing. Digital storytelling is a “qualitative research method useful for action- and social justice-oriented public health efforts,” according to the MGC.

Digital storytelling provides a safe space for gamblers

Participants contribute through a group-based workshop. This workshop provides training, tools and resources to help participants create digital stories and feel empowered storytellers of their experiences.

“Digital storytelling can provide a safe space for participants to share their experiences and stories on difficult topics like gambling,” said Helen Caulton-Harris, commissioner of Springfield’s Department of Health and Human Services.

“This creates a space where the lived expertise of marginalized communities is valued and there is an opportunity to share their own stories.”

This year, the MGC has seen an increase in applications for studies on youth gambling, with fellowships awarded in Boston, Medford and Melrose in addition to Springfield.

In addition, the Massachusetts Sports Betting Bill (HB 5164) was signed into law by then-Governor Charlie Baker on August 10, 2022, making the state the 36th state to legalize sports betting.

Of course, the sports betting market was not launched until January 31, 2023.

According to PlayMA projections, the Massachusetts sports betting market is expected to handle $5.7 billion in bets in the future. However, it should be noted that gambling is restricted in the Pilgrim State.

So far, only six of the ten online sports betting licenses in Massachusetts have been claimed. Available sportsbooks include BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, ESPN BET, FanDuel and Fanatics.

Additionally, Bally Sports is reportedly set to launch sometime in 2024.

Anna Harden

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