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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) voted to award the City of Springfield a grant to help address gambling-related harm affecting the youth, the commission announced Friday.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted to award the City of Springfield a $275,000 grant

Moreover, commissioners voted to award Springfield with a $275,000 grant as part of the Massachusetts Community Mitigation Fund (MCMF). The commission provides grants to support communities with offsetting costs related to the construction and operation of gaming facilities.

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

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

In fact, the commissioners made the decision to award the funding at a public meeting on Thursday.

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

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

More importantly, the awarded funds will be used toward research efforts, including digital storytelling and crowdsourcing. Digital storytelling is a “qualitative research methodology useful for action and social justice-focused public health efforts,” the MGC said.

Digital storytelling provides a safe space for problem gamblers

People contribute during a group-based workshop that provides the training, tools, and resources for participants to create digital stories and feel “empowered as storytellers” of their experiences.

“Digital storytelling can provide a safe space for participants to share their experiences and narratives around challenging topics, like gambling,” said Helen Caulton-Harris Commissioner of the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services.

“This will provide a space that values lived expertise from marginalized communities to share their own stories.”

This year the MGC saw an increase in applications to study youth gambling. In addition to Springfield, other grants were awarded in Boston, Medford, and Melrose.

Furthermore, the Massachusetts sports betting bill (HB 5164) was signed into law by then-Gov. Charlie Baker on Aug. 10, 2022. The commonwealth became the 36th state to legalize sports wagering.

Of course, the sports betting market first launched on Jan. 31. 2023.

Per 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 limited in the Pilgrim State.

Only six of the 10 Massachusetts online sportsbook licenses have been claimed to date. Available sportsbooks include BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, ESPN BET, FanDuel, and Fanatics.

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