The push for a legal sports betting market in Massachusetts ended earlier this week, after the Massachusetts Senate eliminated all language referring to sports betting from a $459 million economic development package.
The proposal failed despite the backing of the Boston Red Sox, MGM Resorts International, FanDuel and DraftKings.
House bill, H.4879 which was approved by the Massachusetts House the day prior to the Senate vote, allocates funds toward non-profit organizations affected by the pandemic and a number of local projects.
The package also contained language that would have made Massachusetts the 24th US state to legalize sports betting, before being removed by the Senate.
According to State Sen. Michael Rodrigues, who serves as the chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, sports betting could very well be legalized soon in the state, but contended that an economic development package is an inappropriate way of doing so.
Brendan Bussman, a Global Market Advisors partner, agreed that the House bill was not the best way to introduce legal sports betting to Massachusetts. Bussman said that Massachusetts is estimated to have a strong base of sports bettors. If the state wants to capitalize on this, they must craft a stand-alone bill specific to sports betting instead of sneaking in the issue via a general economic development bill.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has long been a vocal proponent of legal sports betting. The state could revisit stand-alone sports betting legislation later in the year.
Three Licenses Covered in House Bill
Sports betting included in the House bill offered three kinds of licenses for operators: online and in-person betting, in-person betting and digital-only betting.
Online and in-person betting would have been allowed at the Wynn Resorts’ Encore Boston Harbor, the MGM Springfield, and Penn National’s Plainridge Park. In-person betting would have been allowed at horse racing tracks. Digital-only betting would have been reserved for operators who have provided daily fantasy sports to the state for a minimum of one year, and have been licensed to offer sports bets in at least two other states.
Penn National has partnered with sports media entity Barstool Sports to build a mobile sports betting app as well as retail sportsbooks with the Barstool brand. MGM has a partnership with GVC Holdings in Roar Digital, which manages the BetMGM platform.
Gaming analysts believe that when state lawmakers revisit this issue later in 2020 and legalize sports betting, neighboring states like Connecticut may soon follow suit and push other states toward legalizing mobile sports betting, such as New York