When it comes to Massachusetts sports betting, at least one state lawmaker is growing impatient.
“I think it’s something that is well past time for us to do,” State Senator Michael Moore said this week. “Every state is going to be doing it.”
A bill that would authorize sports betting in Massachusetts is idling in committee, apparently stalled over the debate about amateur athletes and collegiate competition. The State House voted to legalize sports betting in July 2021, and the bill was sent to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means to be prepared for a debate on the Senate floor.
Several amendments to the House bill are troublesome for some state officials and threaten to complicate the legislative process. The bill addresses many gambling issues, including slot machines, sports betting, and procedural administration of the industry in Massachusetts.
Debate Over College Sports Betting Is Potential Hold-up
At least one member of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which requested a study on legal sports betting in November, is concerned about the process and timeliness of legalizing and overseeing sports betting.
“I think it’s safe to say … and I don’t want to speak for the legislature, but because the language was not as good as it could have been, there have been a lot of questions from a lot of legislators on how this would be implemented,” Commissioner Brad Hill said.
Senator Eric Lesser, who is running for Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, promises to make sports betting a priority if he is elected this November. He’s introduced a separate bill (S.269) that would permit sports betting at casinos and racetracks but would not allow betting on college games.
Others in the legislature are in favor of collegiate sports betting, though there is also a concern over the impact such a move would have on college students and athletes in regards to gambling addiction.
What’s At Stake For Massachusetts?
According to Lesser, Massachusetts could earn between $25 and $75 million in tax revenue annually via legal sports betting.
Gov. Charlie Baker, who is not running for re-election, has expressed his support of sports betting and has promised to sign it into law.
“MA is losing out to neighboring states on this, especially during big games,” Gov. Baker wrote on Twitter on Super Bowl Sunday
We filed a bill in 2019 and again last year to make sports gaming legal. MA is losing out to neighboring states on this, especially during big games.
Enjoy the Super Bowl, and let’s make sports gaming happen!
— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) February 13, 2022
Massachusetts is bordered by five states, four of which have legalized sports betting in place: Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island.
If a bill goes to the Massachusetts Senate floor for debate and is passed, it would have to occur before the summer recess in July and be signed by the outgoing governor before his term expires in January 2023.