Fall Dreams Fading Fast For Massachusetts Sports Betting Bill

Posted on October 22, 2020

Legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts appears to be all but dead this year, but 2021 could be another story.

If sports betting doesn’t sneak its way back into this year’s economic development bill, it should be a part of the budget that will be worked on early next year, Sen. Michael Brady told LSR. He didn’t want to count his chickens before they hatch but noted he’s cautiously optimistic about passing sports betting by next year.

“I’m a strong supporter of it, a lot of the people I’m speaking to are in support of this,” Brady said. “I think we’ve got to get moving on it whether it happens this year or next year.”

Sports betting in Massachusetts is already behind the ball in New England as residents have other legal options. Those in the northern part of the state can head to New Hampshire to bet with DraftKings Sportsbook. Others south of Boston, where Brady’s district lies, can head to Rhode Island.

House backed Massachusetts sports betting

It looked like there was significant life for sports betting in the Bay State in late July. That’s when the House passed its version of the economic development bill with sports betting included by a 156-3 vote.

The bill authorized seven online sports betting licenses, taxed revenue at 15% and charged $250,000 for a five-year license.

The Senate disagreed with its inclusion, however, and scrapped several sports betting amendments of its own soon after. Negotiations over H 4887 have left the bill in conference committee since then.

Brady: Massachusetts needs revenue

Brady’s district, like plenty of others across the US, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. While he’s a proponent of sports betting, he’s most concerned about more tax dollars to help his constituents.

“It won’t be the almighty savior with the $5 billion deficit that we’re facing … but it’s so important,” Brady said.

A lot of his constituents under 50, especially from the Brockton area, are already taking part in sports betting in Rhode Island, he added.

AGA pushes for college sports betting in Massachusetts

The American Gaming Association recently reached out to the Massachusetts legislature to back the inclusion of betting college sports, should sports betting be passed.

Its letter followed one from the presidents and athletic directors of eight Massachusetts schools asking to ban college betting in the state.

The AGA’s response, penned by Senior VP of Government Relations Christopher Cylke, says the best way to protect college athletes is with a regulated sports betting industry that includes college betting:

“Allowing legal, regulated wagering on collegiate events strengthens the integrity of games and protects bettors, competitions, and the athletes competing in them by enabling robust, transparent, and collaborative monitoring by regulators and law enforcement. Only in a legal, regulated market do regulators and law enforcement have insight into betting patterns and activity that can help them identify concerning trends that in turn help to uncover unlawful tampering with games and athletes.

Brady has some concerns about college sports betting but hasn’t ruled anything out.

“Everything is open for discussion obviously, but that is a little concern I’ve heard from constituents about college sports betting,” Brady said. “But I think either way we’ve got to move forward and get this rolling. We’re in desperate need of revenue.”

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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