MA Sports Betting On Back Burner, Senate President Says

Posted on October 4, 2021
1
Written By on October 4, 2021

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.

The House has more than done its job the past two years on MA sports betting. Its most recent proposal, H 3977, passed the House by a 156-3 margin in July.

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.

Gov. Charlie Baker also wants to see legal sports betting in Massachusetts. He took to Twitter on the first NFL betting Sunday of the regular season to make his desires known:

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.

Mohegan Digital CEO Rich Roberts told LSR they will definitely market to out-of-state bettors to sign up with their partner, FanDuel Sportsbook.

“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.

Matthew Waters Avatar
Written by
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.

View all posts by Matthew Waters
Privacy Policy