Where Does Massachusetts Sports Betting Stand
Many are wondering why Massachusetts remains a hold out when it comes to legalizing sports betting. Since the United States Supreme Court overturned PASPA, the Professional and Amatuer Sports Protection Act in 2018, states are able to legalize and regulate sports betting for themselves. And, since then, thirty states and Washington D.C. have legalized some form of sports betting, but not Massachusetts.
Massachusetts is known for being on the cutting edge for many kinds of legislations. However, it is not clear why the state has not been able to progress when it comes to sports betting and iGaming. This is especially true when you look at the fact that there is a decent amount of support for legalizing gambling in the state.
Now, the question is being raised again due to the results of a report from State House News Service. It has been reported that as many as 60%, and possibly more, state senators in Massachusetts support legal Massachusetts sports betting. So, where is the hold up when it comes to legalizing sports betting in the Bay State?
Last year, a Massachusetts sports betting bill passed the state House by a vote of 156 to 3. The bill is currently held by the state’s Senate Ways and Means committee. Back in March, the chairman of the committee, state Senator Michael Rodrigues, indicated that the bill could be seeing momentum soon when he stated there were active discussions surrounding it that were currently happening.
However, he later walked back those comments by indicating that he was only referencing the way the process was moving and not indicating any support for the measure.
Earlier in 2022, the president of the Massachusetts Senate, Karen Spilka, indicated that sports betting is not even a top priority for the current legislative session in MA. This news was met with dismay from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who supports the legalization of sports betting in the state due to the tax revenue it could bring in. House Speaker Ron Mariano was also frustrated by the lack of momentum on the issue for the same reason.
Both Governor Baker and Speaker Mariano did not want the state to miss out on the ability to capitalize on Super Bowl betting in 2022. The tax revenue that legal sports betting could bring into the state could be highly beneficial to its residents. Not to mention the jobs that could be created in the sector, especially with sports betting stalwart DraftKings being headquartered in Boston.
The State House News report included a survey that indicated there are twenty four state senators that support legalizing Massachusetts sports betting. This was found through survey responses as well as looking at sponsored legislation around the issue. There were also eight state senators that indicated they were undecided, noncommittal, or declined to comment.
There were twelve state senators who did not respond to the survey. However, of those who did reply, no state senators indicated outright opposition to Massachusetts sports betting. These numbers are significant when looking into what could be obstructing the process of legalizing sports betting in the state.
Some state senators themselves are surprised by the hold up in bringing sports betting to the state. This includes state Senator Ryan Fattman who brought up the fact that the current sports betting bill has been in the discussion phase in the state legislature for some time. He indicated his frustration with the delay in bringing sports betting to the state because of the opportunities the state and its residents are continuing to miss out on during this time.
State Senator Bruce Tarr is hopeful that the sports betting bill will make its way through the state’s legislature. He also indicated that he does not feel there is one specific cause for the delay. He feels that the bill will not find momentum until it is viewed as a priority, even though many in the state government already view it as such. This is due to the $30-$50 million, or possibly more, per year that the state is missing out on.
State Senator Diana DiZoglio also brought up the fact that the state is missing out on potential tax revenue. The area where she represents includes the Merrimack Valley, which is close to the New Hampshire border. Because New Hampshire has legal sports betting, her constituents are able to turn to the neighboring state for their legal sports betting needs, spending money that could be flowing into Massachusetts instead.
This is actually a significant issue for the state, as DraftKings reports that as many as 28% of Super Bowl bettors in New Hampshire listed addresses in Massachusetts. Neighboring state Rhode Island also has legal sports betting and Connecticut and New York recently jumped on the bandwagon as well. So, Massachusetts residents in all areas of the state are able to cross the border to place their legal sports bets, all money that could be benefiting their home state instead.
Written by Allie Nelson, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.
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