Massachusetts Legislature

  • MA HB 3977 in Massachusetts to regulate sports wagering has passed in the House of Representatives and was sent to the Senate for approval.
  • The Senate has gone on Summer break without the bill receiving a vote.
  • This sports betting measure is now pushed back until the Fall to be heard by the Senate.

BOSTON – Despite being one of the biggest sporting states in the nation, Massachusetts lawmakers continue to drag their feet on bringing sports betting to its residents.

The most recent bill, MA HB 3977, has been voted on and approved by the House of Representatives but has stalled in the Senate as it closes for Summer break.

Because of this, sports betting in Massachusetts has been delayed until the Fall at the earliest for a review of the bill.

The Latest Massachusetts Sports Betting Bill

MA HB 3977 would allow for both mobile and retail sports betting in Massachusetts. The bill passed by a 160-0 vote in the House on July 22.

The Senate must now review the bill, alter it if need be, and then vote on the fate of MA HB 3977. If the bill is able to successfully pass in both the House and Senate, the bill would officially pass and the Governor would be tasked with signing the bill into law.

“This is a widespread, and frankly a very common activity that’s done legally in more than 30 states including in our neighboring states, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and New York,” said Eric Lesser, State Senator and sports betting advocate.

With the Senate going on Summer break, the measure is now tabled with no potential for movement until they reconvene later in the year.

The reasoning behind why House Bill 3977 was unable to be discussed before the Summer break could be due to the Senate hosting their own bill that they wish to push through for sports betting. SB 269 is similar to the House Bill in bringing both mobile and retail sports betting to Massachusetts, but the difference is in how taxes are divided.

Senate President Karen Spilka has already expressed that the House Bill will be heavily debated in the Fall.

When Will Sports Betting Launch In MA

The next question on every sports bettor’s mind is how far away the Commonwealth is from having its own local regulated sports betting industry. The delay of the Senate vote on HB 3977 pushes back a potential 2021 launch to 2022 at the earliest.

The reality for Massachusetts to get a sports gaming market up and running is that both the House and Senate need to agree on a single bill and vote in favor of its passage. If the Senate simply votes to approve HB 3977, then the bill moves to its final stage where it would be signed by Governor Charlie Baker, who would gladly sign any measure to regulate sportsbooks in MA. If they alter or vote against the bill, Massachusetts returns to square one, needing the approval of both chambers once again.

Should the bill pass and be signed into law, final regulations will have to be made, pushing the potential launch of the industry into early 2022.

This delay will truly affect the potential market profits from Massachusetts sports bettors who will be placing their wagers elsewhere for the  NFL betting season.

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