Massachusetts Lawmakers Stuck on Sports Betting

July 31 is fast approaching, and that is an important date for those that were hoping that Massachusetts would legalize sports betting. This deadline has been set all year long, and it’s starting to look like it will pass without a new bill.

A committee of lawmakers in Massachusetts continues working on getting a bill passed and sent to the governor, but little progress has been made. Both the House and Senate have passed separate bills, and the committee was assembled earlier this year to choose the best path forward.

With so much at stake with the possibility of legalizing this industry, companies and other major groups in the state have made a push as well. Some key issues still remain, and it doesn’t feel like the committee is close to finding a way to make both sides happy.

Differing Opinions Causing Headaches

The biggest difference between the two bills that were passed is the fact that the bill from the Senate would ban betting on college sporting events. The House version of the sports betting bill would allow betting on college events, which would create more wagering opportunities.

Key senators are not willing to move off of that stance, and the House is unwilling to pass a bill with that restriction. It’s ultimately up to the conference committee to come up with the plan forward, but it’s going to receive pushback with whatever decision is reached.

Another big debate comes from the tax rate that is included in each bill. The Senate bill has a much higher tax rate set for both retail and online wagering, and that is something that has been fought by key stakeholders in the industry.

Overall the bill from the House of Representatives is similar to bills from other states, but the Senate bill would create a very small market. The House bill would allow professional sports teams to be involved with sportsbooks at their stadium, but the Senate wants to keep these retail sportsbooks to casino properties.

It has always seemed like the House Bill would be the one that was chosen in most respects, but Senators are not budging.

Businesses Support Legal Betting

The committee has been hearing arguments over the past few weeks from both sides, and nearly all of the arguments have been in support of legalization. The latest plea comes from the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), and it’s the largest association of businesses in the state.

A letter was sent by the AIM to express support over legal sports betting, but it did not express opinions on the key issues that still remain on the table. Amazon and TD Bank are both members of this group, and the hope is that a resolution will be passed before the deadline passes.

DraftKings Could Lead the Charge

DraftKings is a company that is based out of Boston, Massachusetts, and it is one of the biggest companies in the world in this industry. If sports betting was to be legalized in Massachusetts, then it would be reasonable to assume that DraftKings would play a key role in getting this industry up and running.

Massachusetts continues to be surrounded by states with legal sports betting, and there are only 20 in the U.S. that no longer have this industry in place. This state won’t be able to launch sports betting at any point in 2022, but an early 2023 launch could occur if a decision is reached.