Sports Betting Bill Gets Shot Down in Massachusetts Again

Nov 20, 2020 17:11Tim Ronaldson
Massachusetts says no to sports betting

Massachusetts residents will have to wait another year for sports betting to possibly be legalized in their state.

On Wednesday night, the state Senate closed out its proposed fiscal year budget, which will stand at $46 billion. Not included in the budget was a bill that would have legalized sports wagering in the state.

Bruce Tarr, the Minority Leader in the Senate, proposed an amendment to the budget this week that would have legalized sports betting. That bill was rejected outright without the Senate even holding a roll call vote. That was a firm rejection of sports betting in Massachusetts -- at least for now.

What Happened with Sports Betting in Massachusetts?

Tarr's proposal would have allowed a variety of sports wagering to occur legally in Massachusetts. If it would have passed, it would've permitted racetracks, casinos and even online operators to apply for a sports betting license. The revenue garnered from these application fees would've been put in a new economic recovery fund for the state.

Sports wagering has received support from a number of legislators in Massachusetts. Senate Patrick O'Connor said it was "free money." Senator Marc Pacheco said the state is "losing all of this revenue that we are going to need."

The biggest problem for Massachusetts -- as is the case in a number of other parts of the country -- is that there are many surrounding states that offer legal sports wagering. That means Massachusetts residents go across state borders to place sports wagers, giving that revenue to other states.

Border states such as Rhode Island and New Hampshire both offer legal sports betting. You can even do so on a mobile app there. So, all a Massachusetts resident would have to do would be cross the border, open the app on their phone and place a bet.

Neighboring New York also offers legal sports betting, but they don't offer mobile betting at this point just yet.

Massachusetts already has two casinos and slot parlors that, combined, average roughly $21 million every month in gambling revenue. Sports betting revenue has been estimated between $20-$35 million annually.

Pacheco outlined his thoughts on the urgency of this matter, saying: "If we don't do it [sports betting] in this bill, we should absolutely get to work before we end this year to make sure this is done. I am very concerned that we are going to be missing the boat on this."

Still Hope for Sports Betting in the State

There is still some positive outlook for Massachusetts residents who are looking forward to placing sports bets within their state. Over the summer, the state House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a budget that included sports betting.

Their version of the bill would've made available seven different online sports betting licenses -- one for each of the existing casinos, one for FanDuel Sportsbook, one for DraftKings Sportsbook and two others.

This gives hope for the eventual legalization of sports betting in the state. While the state Senate decided not to include sports wagering as part of the fiscal year budget, it doesn't mean they won't bring up legislation separately at a later time.

Some senators said they expect sports betting to be addressed either later this year or early next. Others said they feel a more likely timeline is before the fiscal year 2022 state budget is passed.

Tim Ronaldson
Lady Liberty
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Tim Ronaldson is a writer, blogger and marketer. He loves all things sports, especially covering the sports betting industry. He joined the AmericaGambles Team 2020 and is mainly responsible for columns and extensive reportage articles.
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