- House Bill 4559 that would legalize sports betting in Massachusetts may not see any more floor time in 2020 but there are still over two months left in the session for that to change.
- Whether it be 2020 or 2021, legalizing the wagering on sporting events in the Bay State could potentially generate anywhere from $30-$50 million annually for the state’s economy.
BOSTON – Sports betting legalization in Massachusetts seemed like it was going to happen in 2020 until the Coronavirus Pandemic stopped any progress on the topic leading people to ask if the Commonwealth will be able to see it become a legal pastime in 2021.
Neighboring states such as Rhode Island and New Hampshire are profiting from Massachusetts’ lack of a sports betting industry as residents are flocking to these areas to place wagers on sporting events.
All of that has led to lost revenue that the Bay State could have used during the financial crisis they’ve been under in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Why 2021 For Legal Sports Betting?
The last real progress for House Bill 4559 came in March, around the same time that the Coronavirus began shutting down cities nationwide. The focus was then put on all COVID-19 related issues, putting sports betting legalization on the backburner.
The original session was scheduled to adjourn at the end of July. However, because of the pandemic, it was extended to remain open through the end of the year.
Yet even with the extension, there are a few factors that have pointed toward 2021 being the year to get legal sports wagering off of the ground. For one, it was removed from an economic development bill this session as the Senate would like to see it stand on its own two feet as an individual piece of legislation rather than tacked onto anything else as other states have done in the past. Not only that but colleges within the Commonwealth came together in September to oppose having any kind of sports wagers be legal on their games.
With a little over two months left in the session, that doesn’t put MA HB 4559 in the most favorable position to receive further review let alone passage this year.
In August, Representative Brad Hill told LegalSportsBetting that the House was on board with legalizing sportsbooks for Massachusetts and that House Bill 4559 was the best bet at getting it done.
He was hopeful that having the Senate agree to the terms was a strong possibility and that would be the final hurdle to turn the bill into law for the 2020 session. Of course, it would require Governor Charlie Baker’s signature but he has voiced being an advocate for legal sports betting should a bill on it reach his desk.
There is still time in the current session for House Bill 4559 to be revived as it has not yet died in the House. While it was taken away from being a part of the economic development bill, it still exists as its own bill.
And with the financial crisis the Bay State is in since the outbreak of COVID-19 and Governor Charlie Baker in the corner of legalizing sports wagering for Massachusetts for the revenue alone, MA HB 4559 could very well be placed on the docket before the year ends.
Projected revenue from a Massachusetts sports betting industry ranges anywhere from $30-$50 million annually. That’s definitely something that might be considered as the Massachusetts Legislature looks for new revenue streams to bridge the debt that continues to accumulate from the Pandemic.
Not all hopes have been dashed just yet, there is still a shot that legal sports betting could pass in 2020 for the Bay State and what bettor doesn’t like to see an underdog take home the win?
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.