Red Sox wants legal sports betting

  • People affiliated with the professional sports organizations in Massachusetts are speaking out in favor of legal sports betting in MA as the Coronavirus continues to eat away at their 2020 profit margins.
  • House Bill 4559 still has nine days within the Massachusetts Legislature to pass and be on its way to becoming law which is what teams like the Boston Red Sox, in particular, would like to see.

BOSTONMassachusetts has considered legalizing sports betting in 2020 but with the session nearing its end, advocates like those associated with the Boston Red Sox are pushing for its legalization before time runs out.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected every facet of the nation and professional sports like the MLB have endured huge financial losses and are bracing themselves for further hits as time goes on.

Something as small as allowing fans to wager on the games could be a tremendous help, especially when these same fans will not be allowed to go to matchups in person because of the guidelines in place for the pandemic.

“Four months into this pandemic, mobile sports betting takes on a new urgency for the leagues and teams. As I said, our revenues have fallen off a cliff, and so the direct financial impact of revenues for sports betting for teams may be relatively modest — we’re not going to be running sportsbooks ourselves — but today every single dollar of advertising and sponsorship revenue is extremely important to us,” said David Friedman, senior vice president of legal and government affairs for the Red Sox.

A Legal Sports Betting Industry In Massachusetts

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an ever-increasing budget crisis on its hands because of the Coronavirus. Allowing residents to legally bet on sports would not only help to alleviate some of that financial burden for pro sports organizations in the Bay State but it would also be beneficial to the economy.

House Bill 4559 is on the table in the Massachusetts Legislature but has not seen any progression since March.

It is one of the better bills seen by the Legislature this session as it was expected to see a favorable trajectory, however, there are more than a handful of bills that could make sports betting legal in the Commonwealth this session.

Friday, July 24, will mark the opening day for the Boston Red Sox when they take on the Baltimore Orioles. The session for any legislation to pass and move on to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk will end on July 31.

Legalizing MA HB 4559 would be profitable by way of marketing and sponsorship revenue for teams per Friedman. But it is his fear that the fallout of COVID-19 will be felt next year as the franchise loses millions from having to conduct their shortened schedule in this manner for 2020.

What’s To Come For MA Sports Betting?

Senator Brendan Crighton spoke to LegalSportsBetting in May.

“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 at the time.

The issues associated with COVID-19 are the continued focal point of lawmakers in MA but gambling on sporting events is a COVID-19 issue to some degree because of the major effects the virus has had on sports as a whole.

A legal sports betting market for Massachusetts could bring in as much as $25 million annually should House Bill 4559 begin to move and pass in the nine days left of the session.

But the problem with that, and what organizations like the Boston Red Sox would need to understand is how long it takes to launch an industry like this once it’s officially been made legal.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission would be the regulatory body to oversee all rules and regulations on the market. Both retail and mobile sportsbooks would be available to sports bettors that are within the borders of the Bay State and are 21 and older.

But every state that has opened up legal sports betting has needed time to iron out all the details which would make legalization at this point a helpful source of revenue for 2021 at the earliest, throwing the 2020 season to take on more losses.

But a legal Massachusetts sports betting marketplace in 2021 could begin to offer those much-needed profits the Red Sox and others were unable to see in 2020 if MA HB 4559 passed this session.

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