- The hope of getting a spillover of the 2020 legislation to make sports betting legal in Massachusetts is over as the final economic bill has been released without sports betting included.
- The Massachusetts Legislature convened for their 2021 session on Wednesday, leaving the door open for what looks to be the year to legalize sportsbooks in the Commonwealth.
- A legal sports wagering market in the Bay State is projected to generate anywhere from $25-$50 million in revenue annually for the economy.
BOSTON – With the $627 million economic development bill reaching finalization overnight, the idea of getting a legal sports betting industry in Massachusetts in the near future is no longer open for discussion.
Governor Charlie Baker added the sports wagering market as a revenue source to his original budget proposal but legislators in the Commonwealth shelved that idea at the beginning of meetings for the bill.
It was the hope of many that lawmakers would circle back to sportsbooks and add them into the economic development bill as they had been originally, but in the end, they chose not to do that this year.
“This bill was really about COVID relief. It’s about getting money and getting support out the door to the businesses and the families and the communities that have been most impacted by the COVID recession,” said Senator Eric Lesser.
The Future Of Legal Massachusetts Sports Gaming
Lesser is a co-chairman for the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies which is the committee that served as the sponsors for House Bill 4559 in 2020 to make sports betting in Massachusetts legal.
Once the Coronavirus Pandemic hit, all focus was shifted toward how to deal with the virus and the collateral damage it would cause to the economy of the Bay State. Discussions for MA HB 4559 ceased and the bill would ultimately die in session with no chance of revival through the economic bill.
But there is hope for the 2021 session when it comes to making sports wagering a legal pastime for residents of the Commonwealth.
In 2020, professional sports organizations spoke in favor of legalizing the activity because it could help them to gain more fans that would equate to more profits as they are very much needed for all the time the leagues had to take off during the start of the outbreak of COVID-19. Government officials agree that sports wagering could be very lucrative for everyone, bringing millions to the economy but more time is needed to speak on it.
“I personally would like to see sports betting get done, and we want to do it when we have time to really focus on it,” said Lesser. “I do think you’ll see a process on sports betting move forward, but in this bill, the focus needed to be on getting relief to people with the COVID recession.”
House Bill 4559 from 2020 would have made retail and mobile sportsbooks legal for the Bay State.
A similar proposal should be seen coming out of the House for the industry in the new session. The Senate will also be working toward drafting their own bill to get a legal gambling on sports market up and running in Massachusetts.
“We look forward to working on a good sports betting bill next session when we have time to really focus on it,” said Michael Rodrigues, Senate Ways, and Means Chairman.
The Massachusetts Legislature convened on Wednesday for their 2021 session. While sports betting was taken out of the fiscal year budget for 2021, it is rumored that policymakers will allow it to stay in the 2022 fiscal year budget.
This would mean that some form of legalized sports wagering market will come to fruition during the 2021 session so sports bettors in Massachusetts should not lose all hope.
News tags: Charlie Baker | Coronavirus pandemic | COVID-19 | Eric Lesser | House Bill 4559 | Joint Committee On Economic Development and Emerging Technologies | MA HB 4559 | Massachusetts | Massachusetts Legislature | Michael Rodrigues | Senate Ways and Means
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.