Massachusetts will be one of the states looking to legalize sports betting in 2021, and the governor is expected to lead the charge. Governor Charlie Baker introduced an official sports betting proposal last week as part of his budget proposal.
HD 678 is the name given to this bill offered by Baker, and it would authorize both retail and online sports betting in the state. Massachusetts has been exploring sports betting in recent years, but Baker has made it clear that it needs to happen this time around.
Sports betting companies and professional sports teams in Massachusetts have been pressuring the state to authorize sports betting. DraftKings is headquartered in Boston, and that operator would lead the charge if given the opportunity.
According to Baker’s proposal, only professional and international sporting events would be available in the state, leaving out collegiate events, amateur events, and esports betting markets.
This is the third straight year that Baker has included sports betting in his budget proposal, but the state legislature has been unable to get a bill passed. The House of Representatives in Massachusetts did pass a piece of legislation in 2020, but it died out in the Senate.
There are also other sports betting bills on the table in Massachusetts, including SD 177. This bill was re-filed by Senator Brendan Crighton after he failed to generate support a year ago.
Twenty states in the U.S. now offer legalized sports betting, including New Hampshire and Rhode Island in New England. Massachusetts would be the largest sports betting market in that region.
Looking to New Jersey As Example
Massachusetts is hoping to become a leader in the U.S. sports betting industry, and it is looking at New Jersey to provide an example. The bill that was proposed by Baker took a close look at the New Jersey sports betting market when submitting his proposal.
New Jersey nearly hit the $1 billion mark in sports betting handle for December, and it should go over that mark at some point in 2021. New Jersey launched sports betting in 2018, but it has quickly become the largest market in the U.S., flying past Nevada.
Massachusetts is not nearly as big as New Jersey, and it does not have the advantage of drawing in sports bettors from New York. One advantage Massachusetts does have is that it would be able to attract some of the biggest sports betting operators in the industry if licenses are available.
Baker’s current proposal would allow for casinos in the state to be eligible to apply for a sports betting license. They could also form partnerships with sports betting companies. Online-only sports betting licenses would also be available, and that could create an extremely competitive market.
Each applicant would be required to pay a $100,000 application fee, and the actual license would cost $500,000. This license would need to be renewed every five years as long as this current proposal is the bill that passes.