Massachusetts may have a hard time approving sports gambling
By Bob Garcia
As all states are looking for new revenue streams, Massachusetts misses a golden opportunity
US sports gambling is reportedly a $150-billion industry, taking into account all legal and offshore options. In the US, according to the American Gaming Association, legal sportsbooks – those operating in states that have approved legislation – took in $10 billion in a single year since the Supreme Court dropped the ax on PASPA in 2018. Despite the revenue potential, and the fact that the state is hemorrhaging money because of COVID-19, Massachusetts has decided it doesn’t need to break into the sports gambling market.
The Massachusetts Senate denied a measure this week that would have seen sports gambling become part of the state’s budget next year. This comes after there was a small glimmer of hope that there could be forward progress when, this past summer, the state’s legislative session was extended to the end of the year. Massachusetts senators have reportedly stated that sports gambling is “not important enough” to be considered, even though it would mean millions of dollars in potential tax revenue at a time when casinos are not producing action and are forced to lay off hundreds of employees.
The lawmakers’ justification is flawed on many levels, and there has already been talk that they were, perhaps, influenced to push sports gambling aside. A bill that would pave the way for sports gambling in the state would allow both DraftKings and FanDuel to get started right away, while the state’s casino operators, or other entities, would have to apply for one of the remaining seven licenses. There are concerns that, maybe, the lawmakers were pressured into their decision. Now, it looks like it will be at least 2022 before Massachusetts can compete with four nearby states that have legal markets, and a fifth that is close to approving sports gambling legislation.