The mystery around why a bill that would legalize sports betting in Massachusetts cannot land a Senate hearing continues to grow.
Sen. President Karen Spilka said earlier this year sports betting is not a top priority this session. That prompted frustrated responses from Gov. Charlie Baker and House Speaker Ron Mariano over the missed Super Bowl betting opportunity this year.
Details of Massachusetts sports betting survey
The survey found 24 senators support legalizing sports betting, either through their survey responses or through sponsored legislation.
Eight said they were either undecided, noncommittal or had no comment.
None of those that responded to the survey had outright opposition to legal sportsbooks. Twelve senators did not reply.
What senators had to say
Sen. Ryan Fattman noted he is surprised at the delay:
“The sports betting bill has been in discussion in the Legislature for quite a while, and I am surprised that we have not gotten anything done with this legislation up to this point. … In a state where the largest online sports betting company got its start, it doesn’t make sense to continue to delay this bill and miss out on all the opportunities that legalized sports betting could bring to the Commonwealth.”
Sen. Bruce Tarr said he hopes the Senate can find a way to move forward and does not think there is a specific issue holding up the process:
“Not that I’m aware of. I think it needs to find its place as a priority, and that’s what’s holding it up. And clearly, for many of us, it is a priority. And it’s a priority because we’re leaving $30-50 million a year on the table, maybe more.”
Border rep says stop sending dollars out of state
The lack of legal betting in Massachusetts is not lost on Sen. Diana DiZoglio, who knows tax dollars are flowing out of state:
“I’m supportive. I represent border communities in the Merrimack Valley where folks are placing their sports bets in New Hampshire by taking a few short minutes to drive or walk across the border. This continues to result in a significant revenue loss for Massachusetts and gain for New Hampshire.”
According to DraftKings, 28% of Super Bowl bettors in New Hampshire had a Massachusetts address.
It is not just New Hampshire sportsbooks taking money from Massachusetts residents, of course. There is also legal online sports betting in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island as well, providing plenty of opportunity for residents to place legal wagers.
Massachusetts sports betting comments walked back
Sen. Michael Rodrigues, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means committee holding the bill the House passed last year 156-3, made it sound like action could be coming soon on sports betting earlier this month.
“We are actively engaged in discussions and meetings with all the principals. It’s very complicated. It’s very broad. And we’re processing it,” Rodrigues said.
He then clarified his comments a few days later.
“My comment meant to convey that I was fine with how the process was proceeding, not that I was in favor of a particular bill as is, or the legalization of sports betting generally,” Rodrigues wrote.