Sports betting fans in Massachusetts may have a decent ending to 2021. On November 17, the formal legislative action is set to close, which is why it is still possible that a sports wagering bill, which was introduced in July, could be passed in late 2021.
Senator Eric Lesser, the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies’ co-chair, stated this during a virtual forum on State House News Service on October 26. According to him, the Senate is close to acting on the sports betting bill.
The Bill Advanced to the Senate During the Summer
Lesser serves as the lead sponsor of bill S.269, which has been in a pending state in the budget committee of the Senate since July. The House sports betting proposal H3993 is also under the same circumstance. The House bill had 156 votes for and three against, and it managed to proceed to the Senate on July 23.
The Longmeadow Democrat stated that he thinks that even though the sports betting bill is close, his massive priority and one thing that should be in everyone’s mind is to make sure that the game integrity issues and consumer protections are “front and center.”
After a politically-charged mapping of legislative districts was wrapped, a room for the sports betting bill was made by Senators on October 28. The passage of a federal relief and state surplus spending bill followed and on Wednesday, it was unanimously cleared.
With the fact that the two top priorities have been closed in Massachusetts, many hope that the attention will be diverted towards the sports betting bill. Lesser commented on the case by saying that the sports betting bill is something that he and many others have worked on an almost-daily basis and the conversations have been active and productive. He added that this is a live issue.
College Sports is a Topic on Which the Senate is Divided
At the moment, there’s one hold up to the Senate’s approval and that is the question of whether college sports betting should be allowed. Betting on all college events except individual athlete performances would be allowed by H.3993. On the other hand, Lesser’s bill does not allow college sports wagering.
Lesser’s partner and co-chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, Republican Jerry Parisella thinks that the decision would have a massive impact on the sports betting revenue in Massachusetts.
During the forum, Parisella stated that bettors will always find a way to wager on sports events. They have the option of going to New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Connecticut to place bets. They can even use the services of foreign online bookmakers.
Lesser added that mobile betting by using a credit card is also an issue in the state. That is why his bill would not allow placing bets with credit cards, but the House bill will. The Senator told this to the SHNS and added that it is a big concern to the caucus.
Getting a bill through the Senate before the formal business of the Massachusetts legislature is finished on November 17 is not a big problem or a deciding factor for both proposed bills. Technically, pending bills are in the equation for two years and that allows both sides to act in 2022. However, the further the delays are, the smaller the chances of the bill being approved in early 2022 are.
That may be a concern because the 2022 Super Bowl is scheduled for February 13 and it is a well-known fact that a lot of money for the commonwealth could be on the line. That is why there are some frustrations and Governor Charlie Baker even decided to tweet his. He was angry about the delayed sports betting legislation before the season opener by the New England Patriots on September 12. He’s been a vocal supporter of sports betting and even filed his own legislation.
Baker’s tweet stated that in order to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts, two bills have been filed – one in 2019 and one this year. He added that now is the time to act because the state is losing a lot of money to its neighbors.