Massachusetts Sports Betting Looks Like Slam Dunk in 2021

Massachusetts Sports Betting Looks Like Slam Dunk in 2021

Two New England states have legal sports betting, one has made progress on legislation in the past, another is studying what it would bring to the state and another seems willing to work with its tribes to legalize it in 2021.

That leaves Massachusetts, which seemed poised to include it in an economic development package in 2020 before it died in the legislature. But 2021 brings new optimism, especially with a budget shortfall the state will be facing and with the momentum sports betting legislation seemed to have this year.

Plus, Gov. Charlie Baker is on board.

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Why Massachusetts?

Sports betting would help Massachusetts combat the illegal betting market, protect and create jobs and generate tax revenue, which would create an estimated $50 million annually, according to a letter sent by professional sports teams in the state to the economic development bill conference committee.

The Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, New England Revolution, the PGA Tour, along with betting companies – DraftKings, MGM Springfield and FanDuel – called for passing sports betting legislation in 2020.

Baker is seen as a sports betting supporter, having pushed his own bills to legalize the practice. Over the summer sports betting could help generate revenue for the state as it deals with coronavirus pandemic budget deficits.

“We wanted to give Massachusetts the ability to have people play here rather than playing elsewhere,” Baker said in late July.

Baker sees what other states around him are doing. Both sides (the tribes and the government) in Connecticut are saying all the right things about approving sports betting; Maine almost legalized it in early 2020 before the governor vetoed the bill; and Vermont has legislation to study what sports betting would bring.

And it’s already legal in Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

Casino gaming is already legal in the state, but there is no current push to allow online casino gaming.

What to Expect in Massachusetts

The developments in other states could give Massachusetts the push it needs. The Massachusetts Senate in late November passed a $46 billion state budget for the upcoming fiscal year but didn’t include sports betting.

One bill introduced in 2020 would have allowed seven online sports betting licensees for the casinos, DraftKings, FanDuel and two others. DraftKings is headquartered in Boston.

That’s a good start.

2021 Forecast

Partly cloudy. Progress was made in 2020, and it looked like sports betting would be included in the economic bill, but in the end it didn’t have enough support. It seems like a slam dunk in 2021, given the budget deficit and support from the professional teams. But it’s Massachusetts, so we’ll be cautiously optimistic.