Frustration Mounts in Massachusetts Regarding Legal Status of Sports Betting

An American flag flies over the Fenway Park grandstand in Boston, Massachusetts. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

Sports betting is still not legal in the state of Massachusetts and many politicians and bettors in the state are angry.

They are angry because of the progress made by other states as well as by the opportunities for revenue that the stalled legalization of sports betting has caused the state to miss.

Support 

There is clearly strong support in the state for the legalization of sports betting. Sports betting has gained approval from the House multiple times as the prospect of its legalization passed the House with 156 votes in its favor versus three, not in its favor.

The House-approved sports wagering legislation looks hopeful, then, even as it has to gain approval from and go through the Senate.

Reportedly, most senators in the state — over 60 percent of them — support the legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts.

This support is something that unites both Democrats and Republicans in the state. But reports offer even more promise because, per a survey, no senators in the state expressed unequivocal opposition to the legalization of sports betting.

Complexity 

However, there is a wide gap between supporting the legalization of sports betting and supporting specific plans for legalizing sports betting.

There are a lot of specific details that state politicians need to work through and agree upon before they gain enough of a consensus.

For example, discussions have addressed the regulation of sports betting, the sharing of revenue, and so forth. Many proposals have been made, but that’s it. Massachusetts is stuck in a stage of multiple proposals.

Missed Opportunities 

Politicians in the state have expressed their frustration that these delays in legalizing sports betting have engendered.

During the months of discussion over specific details, a Super Bowl took place. March Madness is finishing up and the list of major sports wagering events continue that Massachusetts residents could not wager on in the state.

Bettors based in the state are doing a better job of capturing opportunities. They have the advantage that multiple surrounding states have already accomplished what Massachusetts should have accomplished a long time ago.

Specifically, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and New Hampshire have already legalized sports betting.

Over a quarter — 28 percent, exactly — of bettors who placed a wager on the Super Bowl are officially Massachusetts residents in the sense that they have a Massachusetts home address registered.

Those bettors are not contributing to revenue in the state since they are placing the bets at top sportsbooks that are not located in the state, that are not paying taxes to Massachusetts. 

Job creation and other economic benefits of lucrative activity are stalling in the state along with the legalization of sports betting.