Pro Teams Urge Massachusetts To Pass Sports Betting Bill

Pro Teams Urge Massachusetts To Pass Sports Betting Bill
© USA Today

The push to get Massachusetts sports betting back on the docket and passed this year has received backing from the five major professional sports teams in the Boston area.

The Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics added their name to a joint letter sent on Nov. 20 by a coalition of professional sports, gaming and technology organizations to members of the state’s economic development bill conference committee.

The Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, New England Revolution, the PGA Tour, along with betting companies — DraftKings, MGM Springfield and FanDuel — all joined the call to pass sports betting legislation before the end of the current legislative session in Massachusetts.

COLUMN: Massachusetts missing the mark on sports wagering? You bet

In the letter the organizations noted the many positives to passing sports betting legislation at this time including combating the illegal betting market, protecting/creating jobs and generating tax revenue, which would create an estimated $50 million annually.

Last Wednesday, the state Senate passed its $46 billion budget without sports betting included, which means that the last remaining avenue to pass sports betting during this session is as part of the economic development bill currently in conference committee.

The House passed sports betting as part of its economic development bill under consideration in conference.

Another Supporter of Sports Betting

State Sen. Marc R. Pacheco-D (1st Plymouth & Bristol District), the longest continuously serving state senator in Massachusetts (since 1993), is a strong proponent of the sports betting legislation.

In an email to, he said he advocated for its passage in the Senate budget and has vocally supported its overall adoption by the legislature. He disagreed with the Senate’s vote opposing the sports betting amendment in the budget because it would be a valuable form of revenue for the state at a time when traditional sources are not generating enough revenue to bridge the budget gap without using the legislature’s “Rainy Day” Stabilization fund.

New Hampshire and Rhode Island, the two New England states with legalized sports betting, have taken advantage of this revenue source and have developed customer loyalty. Pacheco said authorizing sports betting should be done as soon as possible to avoid losing out to competitor states.

New Hampshire had $47.05 million wagered in October handle. GGR (gross gaming revenue) in October was $4.2 million and state taxes amounted to just over $2 million. Rhode Island set a state record for mobile sports betting handle in September and nearly reset its total handle record as well with $31.3 million wagered in September.

Still a Slight Chance in Massachusetts

So sports betting is not technically “dead” even after the Senate’s vote against its inclusion in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.

It could be approved in the state’s economic development bill currently in conference committee with a report due before the end of the current year. Conference committee negotiations are, as a rule, closed-door negotiations.

However, Pacheco said he would support the inclusion of sports betting language in the final Economic Development Conference Committee Report, as long as that language includes existing licensed gaming facilities and allows the Massachusetts Lottery to participate in sports betting if it chooses to do so.

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