Legislators Pushing for Sports Betting to Be Legal in Massachusetts

| October 28, 2021 10:08 am PDT

With time running out for Massachusetts to approve licensed sports betting in 2021, it’s looking like a major missed opportunity for the “Bay State.”

Although it’s been a hot topic of discussion for the better part of the last three years, less than three weeks remain until state legislature recesses for the remainder of the calendar year.

What’s the Major Holdup?

Ever since the Supreme Court deemed that states had the power to control their laws related to sports betting (2018), Massachusetts has been pushing to get a bill passed.

State senator Eric Lesser (D-Hampden) claimed that the state was all-systems go to proceed with legislation back in July, and yet here we are inching toward Halloween with nothing firm in place.

According to a October 26th report from whdh.com, Lesser confirmed that state officials continue to work toward a resolution.

“We’re doing our best to balance, obviously the fun of sports betting with some of the elements that we have to keep mindful of and be mindful of when you’re talking about a gambling product.

Like any bill, you’ve got a process of working with the duly elected members of the chamber on their different issues and their concerns. When there’s a consensus, when we feel like we’ve gotten to that point, I do feel confident that something will move forward.”

Interestingly enough, Lesser sounded less passive and more determined during a recent discussion put on by the State House News Service.

“It’s time to do something. This has absolutely been a top-tier issue. It’s been something many of us have been working on, on almost a daily basis. And there’s very active conversations going on.”

One of the main obstacles standing in the way of Massachusetts residents being able to place sports bets legally in their state is the topic of college betting.

House Bill 3977 passed earlier in the year – a bill stated that the three state casinos (Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino) and state horse tracks (currently only one at Plainridge Park) could obtain licenses to operate a retail sportsbook.

The bill included literature that each casino could create a mobile betting skin to allow bettors to place wagers on their smartphones and tablets. The caveat?

Each mobile app would cost $5 million.

The Senate has indicated that the reason they’re hesitant to incorporate HB 3977 is because it encompasses betting on college sports. For this reason, Lesser is pushing to start off with betting markets for pro sports only.

“Pro sports teams want legalized gambling. Why don’t we get started there when there’s a consensus?”

Massachusetts is Missing Out

Seeing their neighboring state implement legal sports betting is not going unnoticed. Massachusetts State Representative Jerald Parisella is fully aware of all the money flowing out of the state borders.

“They’re going to just continue going to New Hampshire, continue going to Rhode Island, go to Connecticut or use the offshore books which allow that. We want to give them a product that’s legal, that’s regulated, that provides consumer choice.”

At the end of the day, the lost opportunity for millions in added revenue will be what pushes the Senate over the edge.

However, when asked if he thought sports betting would get passed before Christmas, Lesser offered something “less” than hopeful.

“I do think we’re getting close, but I do think front of our minds and a big priority for me is going to be making sure those consumer protection and game integrity issues are really front and center.”

Sounds like the waiting game for legal sports betting in Massachusetts will continue.

Michael Wynn

As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for GamblingSites.com on football, basketball, and baseball.

Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.

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