Senate President Karen Spilka is in no rush when it comes to considering an MA sports betting bill.
Whether the Senate gets around to considering Massachusetts sports betting depends on available “bandwidth,” Spilka told the State House News Service.
Five issues take precedence over legalizing Massachusetts sportsbooks this year, she said:
- Spending funds from American Rescue Plan Act
- A supplemental budget to wrap up fiscal 2021
- Election reforms
- Mental/behavioral health parity
- Political redistricting
There is still plenty of time to get that list done and more if legalizing betting is important to the Senate. The formal legislative session ends Nov. 17 but an informal session can run through Jan. 4, 2022.
No need for MA sports betting revenue?
Spilka also said something surprising about sports betting revenue, noting she’s “not certain that there’s a need for even more money.”
Governments rarely turn down cash, especially when it comes from something already being done illegally or legally in other nearby states.
Also, just about every sports betting bill filed in the US since the start of the coronavirus pandemic mentions the need for additional revenue to fill budgetary gaps.
More waiting for governor, House
Spilka’s comments likely went over like a lead balloon in other areas of the state government.
That is the same margin by which the House passed an economic development bill last year which also included legal betting. The Senate rejected sports betting with Spilka saying it was not a priority at the time.
“Great to see the @Patriots back! We filed a bill in 2019 and again this year to legalize sports betting in MA – it’s time to act and get this done. MA is losing out to many of our neighbors on this one.”
No MA sports betting great for border states
None of Massachusetts’ bordering states will complain that the Senate is sending tax revenue to their legal betting options.
Right now, those options include betting with DraftKings Sportsbook in New Hampshire and a Caesars/IGT-run sportsbook in Rhode Island. Retail Connecticut sportsbooks launched last week with online launches allowed beginning this Thursday.
“Massachusetts, the legislation there is stalled. There [have been] expectations for what, a year and a half, that they’d be going live with sports betting and it hasn’t really moved forward. Mohegan Sun will be there to pick that slack up and give that destination and that opportunity. For what we know Massachusetts is, it’s a very high-income state with a lot of sports bettors.”
Mobile New York sportsbooks, meanwhile, likely will not launch until January 2022. At this pace, though, those sportsbooks might be live before the Massachusetts Senate even considers a vote on sports betting.