Deceptively Good News in Massachusetts

Enrique Hernandez #5 of the Boston Red Sox hits an RBI double. Mark Blinch/Getty Images/AFP

Some good news is coming out of Massachusetts, but it comes with a major asterisk. Top sportsbooks are yearning to operate in another New England state where bettors hope legal sports betting to launch. A key headline has emerged from the home state of the Red Sox and Patriots: the Senate has officially passed a sports betting bill.

But the future of sports betting in the state does not necessarily look good. In fact, some are saying that the future is bleak. At the very least, significant time will elapse before legal sports betting comes to the state.
So, why does the situation look dismal if a sports betting bill was just passed? How could this make sense?

Sports Betting Bill

The state Senate passed a sports betting bill called SB 2844. However, instead of proceeding to the governor’s desk like the one in Maine, this one is heading to a committee. Some are saying that SB 2844 will die in the committee, that it won’t even make it to the governor’s desk.

Key Issues 

There are a lot of issues preventing a consensus from forming in regards to what an ideal sports betting bill should look like. Key issues include: consumer protection, stamping out the so-called black market, advertising, tax rate, and betting on college sports.

To be more specific, some politicians in the state want to remove advertising restrictions. Others want to allow wagering to happen on at least some college sports. Betting on college sports is largely a topic-driven by integrity concerns.

Despite these concerns, wagering on college sports would yield undeniable profit. Some are disappointed by the limited number of digital platforms that would emerge from this bill. A few want the tax rate to be drastically higher as it is in some neighboring states, although special circumstances unfolded in those states — like the permission of a monopoly — compelling the sportsbooks there to agree to pay more taxes.

The sports betting landscape in Massachusetts is currently in an impasse, despite the appearance of progress having been made, as state politicians struggle to hammer out such a variety of complicated questions and problems.