Sure, Take Your Time: MA Sports Betting Likely On Hold Until Fall

Posted on August 11, 2021
MA sports betting
Posted By on August 11, 2021

Most states in New England either offer or will launch sportsbooks. So why is there no urgency to legalize MA sports betting?

A bill that would legalize Massachusetts sportsbooks is being held up by the Senate, as is tradition it seems. The House passed an updated bill in July after hearing testimony from stakeholders in June. Meanwhile, the Senate proposal is the same bill introduced by Sen. Eric Lesser months ago.

Things seemed to be progressing quickly to get a bill passed before summer break, but it appears those plans are over now. Senate President Karen Spilka told local outlet WWLP she expects a robust debate on Massachusetts sports betting in the fall.

Requests for an update from Senate officials have also gone unreturned. House Speaker Ron Mariano‘s office referred LSR back to the Senate when asked if the House expected any movement on sports betting soon.

Plenty of other choices for MA sports betting

It is a bit confusing why Massachusetts is content to send sports betting revenue to its border states.

Boston-based bettors have had access to legal sports betting in Rhode Island since November 2018. It might not have been the biggest threat at first, with retail only to start and in-person registration required for mobile after that. Remote registration has been live for more than a year, though, which means it just takes a short drive across the border to legally bet now.

Those in the northeastern parts of Massachusetts saw sports betting in New Hampshire launch in December 2019. It too offered remote registration to make betting just over the border possible via DraftKings Sportsbook.

The lack of legal options, of course, means plenty of Massachusetts bettors likely stick with their favorite offshore operators as well.

CT, NY sportsbooks will take MA tax dollars

The downside to betting in New Hampshire and Rhode Island is the monopolies in both states. That typically means bettors do not get the same kind of sign-up offers in states with competing books.

Enter Connecticut and New York. Both states are working toward launching their online markets this fall, though Connecticut likely beats NY to the punch. There will be three online Connecticut sportsbooks fighting for new customers at some point during the NFL betting season.

New Mohegan Digital CEO Rich Roberts told LSR that Massachusetts is a state where it will market to out-of-state bettors with its partner, FanDuel Sportsbook.

Online sportsbooks in New York could launch around the NFL playoffs this year depending on how quickly the RFA process moves. That makes it just a short drive from western Massachusetts into New York, where sportsbooks will want to sign customers to justify the potentially upwards of 60% in sports betting revenue shared with the state.

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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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