The legalization of Massachusetts sports betting seems to be gaining momentum in the state as a new sports betting bill will be discussed this week by the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means.
The bill, HB 3974, is sponsored by the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies and is a summation of several sports betting bills that were discussed during a special 6-hour committee hearing last month.
When Will Massachusetts Sports Betting Be Launched?
The bill includes untethered online sports betting, three online sports betting skins per casino, one skin per horse and/or gray hound race track and in-person sports betting for both types of facilities. A third category of license will be available for untethered online sportsbook operators in the state that are approved by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
The bill seems to have support from a number of different Massachusetts lawmakers, casino industry representatives and Massachusetts professional sport franchises. So, with all the support the bill has, is a 2021 sports betting launch possible?
Don’t count on it.
While Massachusetts is one of the few states with a year-round state legislature, the ask may be too much for a 2021 sports betting launch. If voted on this week, the bill will have to proceed and be approved by the necessary houses before it finds itself on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk for legalization.
Don’t Count on a 2021 Launch Date
Baker is a big proponent of sports betting, but the bill is controversial enough that it will likely be discussed and amended throughout the process.
Will all parties agree to allow sports betting on in-state colleges? It’s been a point of contention in prior sports betting discussions and is included in the current bill.
Will currently tethered sportsbook operators in Massachusetts be pleased with the allowance of untethered operators in the bill? It could be another point of contention.
Sports betting has been discussed and debated in the state for years, so it seems unlikely that overnight both parties and sides will agree to a sports betting bill as is.
These will be aspects of the bill that will likely have to be ironed out before a final document can be sent to Baker’s desk. Could he potentially sign a bill to legalize sports betting in late 2021? Possibly! But that doesn’t mean sports betting will be launched in 2021.
If and when sports betting is legalized in Massachusetts, it will take months for the the program to be launched. Rules and regulations will have to be drafted, licenses will have to be created and issued through stringent application processes and online and in-person infrastructure will be constructed to host the state’s sports betting program.
It’s a long process and this week’s hearing is just the beginning. If the bill is moved on by the committee and approved, it will be a step in the right direction for Massachusetts sports betting.
Just don’t expect to place any wagers in 2021.