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Massachusetts Sports Betting Bill Stalled

The Massachusetts legislature has attempted to legalize sports betting through multiple bills, but lawmakers have not had any success finalizing legislation. The latest bill, HB 3977, which would have legalized mobile and retail sports betting, stalled in the Senate

HP 3977 was passed in the House, but the Senate has been the chamber opposed to sports betting since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was deemed unconstitutional in 2018. The legislative session in Massachusetts runs through the end of the year, but the chambers will be on summer break until the fall.

Sports betting will not be heard in the Senate until sometime in the fall, but it’s unclear if lawmakers will pass HB 3977.

HB 3977 stalls in the Senate

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has repetitively stated that sports betting needs to be legalized in the Commonwealth. Wagering is occurring through offshore sportsbooks by residents of Massachusetts, causing the state to lose money.

Additionally, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut will all offer mobile sports betting at some point during football season. The only state that borders Massachusetts and does not offer betting, is Vermont.

The bill stalled in the Senate because lawmakers disagreed about various parts of the legislation. These will need to be corrected in the fall before there is another severe review of the bill.

Details of HB 3977

HP 3977 would allow for mobile and retail sports betting throughout the Commonwealth. On July 22, the House passed the bill by a unanimous margin of 160 to 0. the Senate will need to review the bill, make changes to the legislation, and then vote first sports betting to become a reality in Massachusetts.

If the Senate passes the bill, governor Charlie Baker will indefinitely sign it into law. Baker has already included sports betting on future budgets, so there is no denying that he supports sports betting.

The Senate could not examine HB3977 seriously in the summer session because legislators are working on their own bill titled SB 269. These bills have similarities, but there are many disagreements with the tax rates.

Senate President Karen Spilka has already declared that the House bill is not suitable for many senators. There will be a stringent debate period the chamber returns in the fall. The Senate has plenty of time to pass a sports betting bill in 2021 when they return in the fall.

When might we see sports betting become reality in Massachusetts?

The earliest sports betting will launch is in 2022. If sports betting is passed in 2021, there will be a period to give licenses to sports betting operators and finalize rules around the industry.

If sports betting had been passed during the summer legislative session, Sports betting would have been possible in 2021. The beginning of the NFL season is prime for sports betting in the United States, so the delay hurts Massachusetts financially.

Many states that have recently legalized sports betting did so with the understanding that football was approaching. Although, Massachusetts lawmakers were unable to find a solution to the differences in their opinions on the sports betting tax rate.

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