- Residents may not see legalized Massachusetts sports betting in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Senator Brendan Crighton believes that his bill, MA HB 4559, will be discussed again once the issues surrounding COVID-19 have been handled.
- An estimated $25 million could be made for the economy of the Bay State should sports betting become a legal hobby.
BOSTON – On Monday, Massachusetts Senator Brendan Crighton (D) sat down with LegalSportsBetting to discuss the legalization of sports betting in the Commonwealth.
Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, Massachusetts House Bill 4559 was gaining traction in the state legislature. The bill was introduced on March 12 and was sent to the Committee on House Ways and Means to be heard but then COVID-19 halted all proceedings.
MA Sports Betting Legalization
He holds strong and logical views as to why gambling on sports should become a legal reality for the residents of his state.
He is insistent that this new industry must include collegiate level wagering as many lawmakers opt to prohibit college sports betting in their proposals. Crighton believes their inclusion is crucial for a competitive market.
“As a sponsor of a sports betting bill I have been a strong supporter of legalization. I believe that we should regulate this industry and provide the strongest consumer protections possible. Sports betting legislation must include collegiate sports in order to maximize the benefits for the Commonwealth,” said Crighton.
He went on to describe the monetary value of college sports betting as well as the immediate competition Massachusetts faces with neighboring states.
“According to the American Gaming Commission, an estimated 47 million Americans wagered nearly $8.5 billion during last year’s March Madness tournament, exceeding the $6.8 billion wagered by 26 million Americans on this year’s Super Bowl. Furthermore, it would prevent Massachusetts from competing with other states like Rhode Island and New Hampshire, both of which allow betting on collegiate sports. While I welcome a robust debate on various aspects of sports betting legislation, any serious proposal on sports betting must include the ability to legally bet on both collegiate and professional sports.”
MA HB 4559 has been stalled but is still alive this session. It would legalize both retail and mobile sportsbooks. Professional and collegiate sports would be open for bets. There would be a 10% tax rate for land-based sports betting establishments and a 12% tax rate for internet and mobile platforms.
The COVID-19 Crisis Effect
According to Crighton, it’s currently all hands on deck for the Coronavirus pandemic and the fallout from this crisis. The General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not focused on any issues like that of sports betting when having to deal with the economic problems that are being caused by the pandemic.
However, he is hopeful that once direct COVID-19 issues are addressed and adhered to, his bill and the topic of sports betting will once again be up for discussion.
“The biggest challenges right now are the many COVID-19 policy matters that must be a top priority. While I believe in the merits and benefits of legalization, I recognize that our focus right now is keeping people safe during this crisis,” said Crighton.
“The crisis we are facing is constantly changing and it’s difficult to look days ahead, never mind weeks or months. After we meet certain public health metrics, we can start easing social restrictions and rebooting our economy. When we get to that point, there will be an opportunity to debate this and other economic development issues.”
The Future Of Legal Sports Betting After COVID-19
Once strategies have been implemented to ease COVID-19 and its effects on the economy in the Bay State, legal sports betting will be a debate set to occur after that. Crighton himself said that it will be an issue that can be brought up once the problems brought on by the Coronavirus have subsided.
“I believe that we will have a robust debate on the issue of sports betting, but obviously all of the focus of the Legislature and state government right now is on the COVID-19 crisis. I am hopeful that once we make it through this pandemic, we can take up economic development issues including sports betting,” said Crighton.
Should House Bill 4559 become a law in the Commonwealth, it would bring multiple benefits along with it according to Crighton. Not only would it create a safe and transparent industry for the people of Massachusetts to take part in, but it would also bring a new revenue stream along with it.
If it occurred in 2020, it may also help with some of the financial losses brought on by the pandemic by providing future profits from the market. The last day of the 2020 session is July 31, giving Massachusetts a little over two months to move on MA HB 4559.
“Legal sports betting would help bring consumers out of the black market and into a regulated system with robust consumer protections. Additionally, it would create an estimated $25 million in state revenue annually. Our casinos, racetracks, and high tech sector would also see significant economic benefits.”
Christina has been writing for as long as she can remember and does dedicated research on the newly regulated sports betting market. She comes from a family of sports lovers that engage in friendly bets from time to time. During the winter months, you can find Christina baking cookies and beating the entire staff at Mario Kart…the N64 version of course.