Massachusetts Sports Betting Legalization Will Be Put Off Until the Fall

The chances of sports betting legalization in Massachusetts to become reality by the end of the current legislative session are getting slim by the minute, a local media outlet reports. The sports betting texts will most likely not survive in the final version of the jobs bill House and Senate seek to reconcile differences and pass.

Sports Betting Legalization Halted

According to several unnamed sources, the Senate is discussing the option to bring the proposal back in the fall, despite the extension past July 31 of formal sessions, as the legalization of sports betting is not considered a priority in a packed schedule for the state legislators.

Many of the legislators are already shifting their focus to the September 1 primary election race, while others will prefer to take time off until their colleagues on conference committees negotiate several other major proposals, besides the jobs bill. Even if advanced now, the chances of passage for the sports betting legalization texts, either as a stand-alone bill or jammed in another one, look like a tossup.

It will really be hard for supporters of the betting legalization to get attention from legislative leaders, who not only face pressure to complete the bills and send them to the governor’s desk for final approval, but also keep an eye on the political discussion between Congress and the White House regarding what amount of federal aid will be allocated to states to potentially offset losses incurred during the lockdowns.

The legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts is expected to bring tens of millions in taxes to the state, and in January the office of Governor Charlie Baker wrote in $35 million in revenue from sports wagering as part of its $44.6 billion fiscal budget for 2021.

The fate of the sports betting legalization is now in the hands of the members of the conference committee, Senators Eric Lesser, Michael Rodrigues and Patrick O’Connor and House representatives Aaron Michlewitz, Ann-Margaret Ferrante and Donald Wong.

The chances are slim, though, as chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, Sen. Eric Lesser, told its colleagues last week that he would support the betting texts but not through the economic development bill. Lesser issued a statement Friday informing about the first meeting of the members of the conference committee, but not a word was mentioned about sports betting.

Like any other legislature in Massachusetts, members of the conference committee meet behind closed doors and are not supposed to reveal details about discussions inside until after a compromise deal is reached.

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