It looks like the legislature is finally ready to act on the multiple bills that would legalize sports betting in Massachusetts.
The Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday to discuss MA sports betting proposals. There are 19 bills on the agenda as senators and representatives have continued to file bills since the beginning of the year.
Legal MA sports betting has felt like an afterthought so far in 2021 as neighboring states kick their efforts into high gear. The Senate recently left sports betting out of its budget proposal, following suit with the House.
There is still plenty of time to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts to keep the Bay State competitive within New England‘s emerging sports betting market. The state’s legislature runs through the end of the year.
Expect a lot of Massachusetts sports betting testimony
Thursday’s meeting looks like it could be a doozy.
The joint committee is accepting submissions for three minutes of testimony through 1 p.m. Tuesday. With 19 bills, there will be plenty of topics discussed, which is likely why the meeting is scheduled for a four-hour block.
The committee will have to come to some sort of agreement on what the Massachusetts sports betting model should look like. Some of the bills call for an open mobile market while others want licenses tethered to casinos and racetracks.
Either way, the committee’s work will not amount to much if the Massachusetts Senate does not get on board with sports betting. The Senate shot down legal sports betting last year after the House overwhelmingly approved a plan with seven mobile licenses.
Massachusetts has to legalize or lose revenue
Time is close to up for Massachusetts if it wants to reap tax dollars from its betting constituents.
There are two legal options for residents in the eastern part of the state. Bettors can either drive north and bet with DraftKings Sportsbook, which holds a mobile monopoly on New Hampshire sports betting, or they can drive to Rhode Island and bet through the lottery’s mobile app there.
Options are coming for the western part of the state as well. Connecticut sports betting could launch by the fall. Mobile sports betting in New York is expected to go live in time for Super Bowl betting.