Sports Betting On Hold In Massachusetts Until At Least 2022
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The Massachusetts State Senate is set to adjourn for 2021 on Thursday without taking action on a sports betting bill passed earlier this year by the House and supported by Gov. Charlie Baker.
This means legal mobile sports betting won’t be coming to the Bay State until January 2022 at the earliest. Odds for passage of any sports betting legislation in the Senate this fall were long from the start. Legal sports betting in Massachusetts is being backed by a consortium of pro sports teams and betting entities.
Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka cooled expectations for any sports betting legislation from the Senate earlier in the fall. She said importance of other pending legislation, including redistricting, the expansion of mental health resources, and the distribution of federal COVID-19-related funds, took precedence.
With the approval of online New York sports betting earlier this month, four of the five states that border Massachusetts have legalized sports wagering online. The other three are Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire.
Sports betting has been on the radar in Massachusetts since the U.S. Supreme Court PASPA decision of 2018 allowed states to legalize the practice.
The final scheduled session of the Senate was scheduled to conclude on Wednesday but was extended until Thursday because of non-gambling-rated legislation. There does not include any discussion of pending sports betting legislation on its agenda.
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Sports Betting Bill Passed By Massachusetts House
The Massachusetts Sports Wagering Act (H. 3933) was passed by the House 156-3 in July. It would allow those over 21 to engage in sports betting on betting sites and in-person at certain facilities and sportsbooks, including casinos and simulcasting sites. Betting on pro and college events would be allowed, although no prop wagers would be taken on college outcomes. The state’s cut would be 12.5% of the net revenue from in-person bets and 15% from mobile wagers.
Under the terms of the House bill, sports betting could deliver at least $70 million in licensing fees and as much as $60 million in annual tax revenues from wagering itself.
Several related bills were under consideration in the Senate, some of which sought to eliminate wagering on collegiate events or limit the number of mobile licenses.
Sessions of what is officially called the General Court of the Commonwealth last for two calendar years beginning in every odd year. The bill passed by the House remains viable for Senate consideration when that body reconvenes in January.
Legal sports betting in Massachusetts enjoys a tremendous amount of support away from Beacon Hill. A consortium of various organizations, including Boston-based DraftKings, WynnBET, BetMGM, the Boston Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and New England Patriots and Revolution sought passage of bills in both chambers. Wynn owns the Encore Boston Harbor casino and resort. The MGM-Springfield casino opened in 2018.
Supporters still hope sports betting will be up and running in the Bay State on betting apps before the 2022 Super Bowl, which is set for Feb. 13. The surprising play of the New England Patriots, who are 6-4 entering their game on Thursday in Atlanta, may help to get it past the goal-line come January.
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