- There has been a total of 19 Massachusetts sports betting bills introduced so far in the state’s 2019 legislative session.
- MA Governor Charlie Baker’s office filed legislation to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts in January of 2019.
- The legislature is currently on Summer recess and will resume their formal legislative session in September.
BOSTON – With the NFL regular season on the horizon, New England Patriots fans are surely betting on Brady and the boys in blue to have another successful season. But, whether or not they will be able to bet on them in a Massachusetts sportsbook is still up for debate.
The MA legislative session lasts all year, but the first half has concluded with lawmakers currently on their summer recess. To this point, there have been 19 total sports betting bills introduced in the legislature, one of which even comes from MA Governor Charlie Baker.
The state seemed poised to legalize sports wagering earlier in the year, however, not a single bill has been advanced through the Joint Committee On Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.
The Committee held a two-day hearing on May 28 and May 29 specifically for nine different sports betting bills. The Committee then held a hearing on overall gambling matters in the state on July 15. The only sports betting bills heard then were MA H 377 and MA H 378.
Massachusetts is home to some of the most successful sports franchises in the country, is not bound by the state constitution or tribal compacts when it comes to legalized sports betting, has support from the governor, and is home to the DraftKings headquarters in Boston.
With all these factors in mind, it may seem strange that Massachusetts has been so slow to possibly legalize sports wagering. However, lawmakers are not necessarily working on a tight deadline given that the session lasts all year.
“We’re going to be diligent and thorough and take our time,” said Senator Eric Lesser, co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.
“The state has a relatively healthy budget this year so we want to make sure that we have the best and most thought-out proposal.”
Some thought the start of the NFL season may have been used as a deadline since football normally draws in bets of any sport in the US. But that has proven to not be the main concern for committee members either.
“The world’s not going to end if we don’t get it ready by football season…We want to get this right,” said Brendan P. Crighton, co-chair of the committee overseeing all sports betting bills and sponsor of MA S 201.
Currently, there are no more hearings scheduled for the committee to discuss how sports betting in Massachusetts would operate. While that could change, Governor Baker has shown that he is not as optimistic that a bill could pass this year.
“I have a feeling it’s going to slide into next calendar year,” said Baker in an interview with the Greg Hill Show. “I certainly hope we get this done by the end of…June of 2020, but I would like to have seen it done sooner to tell you the truth.”
Other New England states including New Hampshire and Rhode Island have been able to pass sports betting legislation this year and New York has also been able to launch retail sportsbooks this year.
While pressure from neighboring states seems to not affect MA lawmaker’s decision on how they will go about advancing a bill, the opportunity for them to do so is still there and sports bettors in the Bay State can remain hopeful.
News tags: Brendan Crighton | Charlie Baker | DraftKings | Eric Lesser | Joint Committee On Economic Development and Emerging Technologies | MA HB 377 | MA HB 378 | Massachusetts | New England Patriots
– In his career, Hasan has worked both local and state government positions—including the Attorney General’s Office in Florida. On top of being familiar with the legislative process, he has also been researching and writing on the legality of sports betting across the US. Outside of work you’ll most likely find him producing or playing music, playing sports, or working on creative writing projects. You’ll also catch him at Doak Campbell Stadium cheering on the Noles.