Massachusetts State House

  • Sports betting in Massachusetts may need to wait until 2021 to see any type of legislation passed for the market.
  • Projections for annual revenue from a legal sports betting industry in the Bay State were estimated to be anywhere from $20-$35 million.

BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker wanted sports betting to be legalized in Massachusetts as he added $35 million for it in revenue to the 2021 fiscal budget. But, in its finalized draft the budget did not include sportsbook revenue, dashing all hopes for the legalization of sports wagering for Massachusetts in 2020.

The Massachusetts Senate made an official state budget for the 2021 fiscal year on Wednesday. The budget is set at about $46 billion and covers the last four and a half months because the fiscal year begins in June.

In all of those billions of dollars, sports betting does not account for one cent of any of it with the Senate ridding the idea from the Governor’s proposal. Instead, the Senate sees the issue as something separate.

Thoughts On Sports Betting In Massachusetts

Sports wagering has seen a number of bills drawn up for potential legalization of the industry. The Governor has spoken in favor of the market on more than one occasion. If any piece of legislation were to land on his desk, he’d be more than happy to sign it and make it law as his addition of the pastime to the budget signifies.

However, the Senate is more focused on the Coronavirus Pandemic and less interested in bringing up new possibilities for revenue that require bills to be passed.

“Right now, the focus is going to be on conference committees, resolving the budget, and COVID. We’ll see though,” said Karen Spilka, Senate President.

House Bill 4559 is one of the bills that looked to be promising before the outbreak of COVID-19. MA HB 4559 would make both retail and mobile sportsbooks legal in the Commonwealth.

Land-based locations would be taxed at 10% on all bets while online and mobile applications would see a 12% tax bringing in a combined estimated millions of dollars in revenue. Anywhere from $20- $35 million has been projected from a legal sports betting market in annual revenue profits for the Bay State.

The large estimate is because Massachusetts is rife with major sporting organizations like the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox, who have spoken in favor of making the gambling on their sporting events legal.

Many lawmakers spoke out in opposition to the omittance of sports wagering in the budget, claiming that it’s all money lost should Massachusetts fail to make it a legal activity in 2020.

Government officials are aware of their constituents gambling on sporting events with offshore mobile sportsbooks and traveling out of state which is just one more reason they want to make the industry legal and keep the money within the Commonwealth, helping their local economy and keeping their residents safe with their own regulated market.

What Now?

There is still a glimmer of hope that the subject of sports betting legalization for Massachusetts be brought up again before January because there are six weeks left to make changes. Spilka has said that it’s possible but nothing definite has been said regarding the topic.

If a bill to make wagering on sports legal in the Bay State does not pass in 2020, lawmakers will have to look toward the 2021 session and new proposals for the market.

Based on the chatter alone, there seems to be more luck geared for a 2021 piece of legislation being passed to make sports betting legal in Massachusetts. There are claims that the industry will be part of the 2022 fiscal budget, meaning sports betting Bay Staters could see a launch of local sportsbooks in late 2021 to early 2022 if all goes according to plan.

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