By Nick Adamopoulos –
When it comes to online sports betting, Massachusetts is far behind most New England states. Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have all legalized online sports betting. While these states have adopted sports betting, Massachusetts lags far behind, and there is no clear path to legalization.
Governor Charlie Baker filed a sports betting bill in 2019 and 2021. The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a sports betting law in July 2021. However, the Massachusetts Senate has not presented a bill to the entire Senate floor yet. Most recently in February, during Super Bowl weekend, Governor Baker once again made a push for legalized sports betting in the Commonwealth and stated that he would sign the bill into law during his final year in office. Baker has viewed sports betting as another source of tax revenue that the Commonwealth needs to capitalize upon.
Sports betting could be a substantial revenue boost to the Commonwealth. Projections are that the Commonwealth would generate between $25 to $75 million in tax revenue on a yearly basis from sports betting. Right now, that revenue is going to neighboring states, with many residents of the Commonwealth simply making their way over the state border to New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, or New York and placing a bet on their phone and then simply returning home. In November of 2021, Connecticut reported $128 million of sports betting volume, with the state generating $15.8 million in revenue. In New York’s first month of legalized sports betting, January 2022, the state reported nearly $2 billion in total bets and reported nearly $70 million in tax revenue for the state.
Currently the Senate bill is sitting in the Senate’s Ways and Means committee. Many senators, including many in Central Massachusetts, have voiced support for a sports betting package to be voted upon and presented to the Governor. Online sports betting within Massachusetts is inevitable. However, without a bill being debated and voted on by the Senate, the Commonwealth is losing out on a vital source of new tax revenue; tax revenue that neighboring states are making off of residents of Massachusetts. The only question is: How much longer can elected officials justify letting that revenue leave the state? Hopefully, not much longer.