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Massachusetts Continues to Miss Boat on Legal Sports Betting

Massachusetts continues to miss out on sports betting. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images via AFP.

With nearly all legal sports betting jurisdictions in the US regularly setting a new monthly record, we look into Massachusetts and why its continuing to miss out.

Give sports betting proponents in Massachusetts credit for continuing to push for a legal sports wagering platform. They have been trying for years with little to show for their efforts. Unfortunately for them, the Senate stands in the way of the sports-crazed state from launching and ultimately benefitting from regulated and legalized sports wagering.

The state House of Representatives is on board with a legalization plan, and the Governor as far back as three years ago stated his desire to see legalized sports betting for his state. Pro sports teams in the area and even the general public have, for the most part, voiced their support for legal sports betting in New England’s most populous state.

DraftKings, one of the true heavyweights in the US legal sports betting scene is based in Boston.

Senate still stalls

It has been since July since the Senate received Bill S. 269 from the House – a Bill that almost unanimously passed and would bring about a robust legal sports betting platform to Massachusetts. The Senate on the other hand, for years has been and continues to be in the way of quick legalization and ultimate tax revenue for the state.

There seems to be little appetite among Massachusetts Senators to get anything done. A lack of urgency has resulted in the state likely missing out on the entirety of yet another lucrative NFL season.

State lawmakers have succeeded on kicking the subject of sports betting down the road. With the recently started holiday recess, talks on the matter won’t start up again until January at the earliest. We can thank the Senate stalls for that.

Reaction to the Senate dragging

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been forced into launching a study about the benefits of the legalization of sports betting in the state. Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s director of research and responsible gaming, Mark Vander Linden is about to become the face of a study that will hopefully convince the reluctant that sports betting in Massachusetts will benefit all.

He said: “An analysis in this area would be done to take a look at, obviously leveraging (a previous National Council on Problem Gambling) study, looking at other data that may exist in other states, looking at how legalization has been rolled out in those states, and combining that would allow us to have a better understanding of the likely impacts of legalization of sports wagering in Massachusetts, should it be legalized, as well as what would be kind of a guiding path towards measures to mitigate that harm.”

Thirty-one states including four that Massachusetts shares a border with (New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) have adopted their own legal sports betting. They’ve all reported highly positive results so far. The study is likely to tell us something that an overwhelming number of the state’s own House of Representatives, and even the public, already know.

The Massachusetts market

Massachusetts, despite being only the 15th highest populated state in the nation is a jurisdiction that has providers’ mouths watering. Home to 7 million residents and beloved, iconic teams in all four major North American sports, Massachusetts is viewed as a ripe destination for any form of legal sports wagering. 

All those involved in the process of legalization, including the stubborn Senate, know that sports betting is already taking place in the state. State and local tax coffers that could be benefitting from such a platform are being left out in the cold. 

Sports betting, according to recent studies, will generate in the neighborhood of $35 million in annual revenue.

“Sports betting in Massachusetts isn’t new – it’s alive and well and has been for quite some time,” Sen. Brendan Crighton, one of a few legal sports betting advocates in the Upper Chamber said back in July. “… I think it’s time for a change and I do believe we’re headed in that direction.”

What it all means

Bettors from Massachusetts are forced to either travel across state lines to place a bet or spend their hard-earned money with offshore sportsbooks for the time being. The Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Celtics, and Boston Bruins will continue to be left out on any lucrative sponsorship deals with competing sportsbooks.

The Massachusetts legislature kicked off a seven-week holiday recess last week, meaning that any sort of sports betting legislation will have to wait until the new year at the very least. It remains unclear as to when some form of legal sports betting platform will even get the green light to start the process of launch. The Super Bowl seems unlikely and now March Madness seems like a stretch.

Unfortunately, the legal sports betting scene in Massachusetts remains in limbo as the state continues to miss the revenue boat.

SEE ALSO: Michigan Sets Sports Betting Record in October

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