Massachusetts regulators are looking at phasing in sports betting

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Okay, now I feel like autumn.

With yesterday’s rain behind us, we’re headed for a weekend of sunny — albeit unseasonably cool — weather, and Boston isn’t going to let it go to waste. The city celebrates the last weekend of September (yes, I know, already!) with two outdoor events.

First, the city’s third pop-up Open Street Day will close over two miles of Dorchester Avenue to cars on Saturday for a bunch of pedestrian events and shopping. Then we have the last Newbury Street Open of the year on Sunday.

Plus, don’t miss all the festivals happening around Massachusetts this weekend, as our arts and culture team has highlighted here.

Now to the news: We still don’t know exactly when sports betting will launch in Massachusetts, but we do know there will be a wait (at least months). And the wait can be even longer for the most popular form: online and app-based sports betting. Members of the Massachusetts Gambling Commission said Thursday they are considering a phased rollout of the industry, allowing in-person sports betting in places like casinos to open before mobile betting goes live.

Commissioners said a two-step approach could at least allow for an earlier start for personal sports betting than if they launched the entire industry at once. The only physical venues initially eligible to host sports betting are the state’s three casinos — Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, MGM in Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino — plus simulcast centers in Raynham Park and Suffolk Downs. In fact, two of the casinos (Encore and MGM) have already built sports bars on their properties that they plan to quickly convert to sports betting.

During a meeting with several dozen companies hoping to offer online betting in Massachusetts, almost no one expressed opposition to the idea of ​​a phased rollout. Almost all company representatives said they would agree to the approach as long as personal sportsbooks are not allowed to launch “connected” mobile betting platforms before the rest of the industry. Even DraftKings, the only company to speak out against allowing in-person sports books to open first, said the higher priority was at least ensuring all mobile platforms had the same launch date.

PSA: Another MBTA line closure starts tomorrow Buses will replace the D branch of the Green Line (from Kenmore all the way to Riverside) this weekend until next Sunday, October 9th. And then they’ll do it for nine more days on Oct. 8-16 — and then again Oct. 22-30.

Like the Orange Line shutdown and other previous detours, T officials say the closure will allow them to speed up much-needed maintenance. In this case, they will replace over 6,000 feet of track, upgrade station crossings and install new collision avoidance equipment.

Free shuttles will stop at all D branches except Beaconsfield due to narrow roads. T staff suggest users at Beaconsfield stations either board the shuttle at Reservoir or use the C branch stop, which is just a five-minute walk away.

Meanwhile in the Worcester area, bus drivers can continue to keep their wallets in their pockets. Worcester Regional Transport Authority chiefs voted yesterday to extend their free scheme from the end of this year until next June.

WRTA is one of three transit agencies in the state with system-wide free bus service, along with the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority and the Franklin Regional Transit Authority.

Boston Celtics made it official last night, suspending head coach Ime Udoka for the entire 2022-23 season over reports that he had an inappropriate relationship with a member of the team’s staff. The Celtics also did not guarantee Udoka would return, saying “a decision on his future with the Celtics after this season will be made at a later date.”

Meanwhile, Celtics assistant coach Joe Mazzula, 34, will take over as interim head coach. For her part, Udoka released a statement apologizing and saying she accepts the suspension.

PS— The Massachusetts House proposed a new tax proposed by the city of Boston this week. You know what would make an impact? Then take our Boston News Quiz and test your knowledge of the local stories we covered this week.

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