Massachusetts was thought to be one of the states that would legalize sports betting in 2019. Now it looks like that may not be happening. The state finally has its first sports betting bill hearing scheduled next week, but that may not be as good of news as it sounds.
It seems like the state of Massachusetts is in more of a listen and learn mentality as opposed to acting quickly. When asked about the idea of legal sports betting this year, Senator Eric Lesser (D-District 413C) said: “I wouldn’t bet on it.”
Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-5th Essex) agreed. “We’re still in the fact-finding stage of all this. As I think has been well reported, this is a complex issue. It is an issue we want to be very diligent with, and we want to make sure that if Massachusetts is to go forward with this, that we do it properly.”
Lots of Options
There have been several sports betting bills to be brought up in Massachusetts. Governor Charlie Baker even created his own sports betting bill. However, the state still has no consensus on how they want to bring sports betting to the state. Whether it is the idea of an “integrity fee,” league data-mandate, mobile betting, or tax percentages, the state is still trying to iron out all of the details.
There are a total of nine sports betting bills on the agenda for next week’s hearing. The majority of these came about in January. Things have since slowed down.
The first hint that sports betting may not be becoming to Massachusetts this year actually came back in April. The House neglected to include sports betting revenue in their budget. That is never a good sign.
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Keeping Up With The Neighbors
Rhode Island is the only New England state that currently offers legal sports betting. However, New Hampshire may be the next in line. New Hampshire has HB 480 making its way through the legislature. Having already made its way through the House, the bill was amended in the Senate last week. After being sent to the Finance Committee, the bill is now headed back to the Senate for a full vote. The New Hampshire General Court adjourns on June 30, and the bill very well could become law by then.
Connecticut and New York are both in heavy discussions to legalize sports betting. If they, along with New Hampshire, legalize sports betting ahead of Massachusetts, that will be four of the five bordering states to beat them to the punch.
As a state that is home to DraftKings, you would think Massachusetts would be in more of a rush to bring legal sports betting to the state. However, it appears they are content with playing the waiting game. The state gaming commission projected that Massachusetts could generate up to $61.3 million in sports betting tax revenue.
It appears sports betting may not be making its way to Massachusetts this summer. We will know more after next week’s hearing.