- There have been a total of 19 Massachusetts sports betting bills introduced this year.
- Massachusetts is surrounded by states that have either launched legal sports betting or have signed sports wagering bills into law.
- Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker introduced a sports betting bill himself in January.
BOSTON – Those looking to legally bet on the New England Patriots this Sunday in Massachusetts will have to cross state lines in order to do so. This will likely be the case all season as state lawmakers have yet to advance a Massachusetts sports betting bill and are in no rush to do so.
Since January, there have been a total of 19 sports wagering bills introduced in the state legislature. One of those bills, MA H 68, was actually introduced by MA Governor Charlie Baker.
Another bill, MA S 201, was introduced by Brendan P. Crighton, co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. That committee is in charge of cyphering all the bills in order to come up with an all-encompassing piece of legislation that will go to both the House and the Senate.
“There’s no commitment to put a bill forward until we’re confident we can resolve all the issues,” said Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies to the Boston Globe.
The Joint Committee has plenty of factors to decide on when trying to introduce the new gambling activity such as who will be able to operate it, what types of bets can be made, and where people in the state will be able to partake in it.
While lawmakers debate on the types of provisions that will be included in the sports betting bill they advance, neighboring state Rhode Island will likely take in sports wagers from MA residents. Rhode Island launched its state-wide mobile sports betting platform just last week.
How Do The Massachusetts Sports Betting Bills Differ?
Each of the 19 bills takes on a unique approach on how to go about launching legal sports betting in Massachusetts.
For example, MA H 68 introduced by Governor Baker would prohibit betting on all college sports. This would include teams that call Massachusetts home as well as any out of state team.
To counter that, Sen. Brendan Crighton’s bill MA S 201 would legalize collegiate sports betting but would not allow wagers to be placed on any game that involves a Massachusetts-based school.
“We cannot compete with the legal market unless we allow betting on NCAA games,” said Crighton to New England Public Radio. “This is going on currently and we’re not going to be able to offer a model that lures folks away [from the illegal market] unless we include what is one of the more popular forms of betting.”
The issue of who can apply for a sports betting license is also still up for debate. In a committee hearing in May, Boston-based daily fantasy sports and sports betting company DraftKings expressed their position on any Massachusetts sports wagering bill to come out of the committee.
“An open competitive legal mobile sports betting market that permits real competition among experienced operators is the best way to stamp out the illegal market, protect consumers, generate tax revenue, and continue job growth for the benefit of all Massachusetts residents,” said Jason Robins, CEO of DraftKings.
Wynn Resorts will also likely have a say in what legislative action is taken. Encore Boston Harbor, which is owned by Wynn Resorts, is the “largest private single-phase construction project” in the state’s history.
The gambling epicenter was one of three casinos in the state to submit a joint testimony to the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies during a previous hearing.
However, up to this point, pressure from gambling companies, the NFL season, and other state’s sports betting operations have not had an effect on MA lawmakers approach to legal sports betting.
Before the legislative summer break, Governor Baker expressed in an interview with the Greg Hill show that he felt as though this topic would slide into next year. Judging by committee members lack of urgency after the break, that certainly may be the case.
– In his career, Hasan has worked both local and state government positions—including the Attorney General’s Office in Florida. On top of being familiar with the legislative process, he has also been researching and writing on the legality of sports betting across the US. Outside of work you’ll most likely find him producing or playing music, playing sports, or working on creative writing projects. You’ll also catch him at Doak Campbell Stadium cheering on the Noles.