(Feature image from bostonglobe.com)
It has been a great year across the US for online sportsbooks as states have started to introduce new legislation and passing new bills to get online sports betting and online gambling options made more readily available at a very rapid rate, and the same was looking true for MA too as back in July a similar bill had been put through to allow sports betting in the state following some difficulties having anything move forward in previous years. It had already been pushed back last year as it was considered not to be a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it seems delays and push-backs will be business as usual for MA sports betting as it has been deemed as a non-priority and is seemingly on hold, meaning it’s unlikely any change will be made for 2021.
There have been calls to push this as a matter of urgency – Gov. Charlie Barker had even tweeted about this by saying “Great to see the @Patriots back! We filed a bill in 2019 and again this year to legalize sports betting in MA – it’s time to act and get this done. MA is losing out to many of our neighbours on this one.” and it’s certainly something that has become more visible lately – stories emerging of residents particularly closer to state lines simply driving to a neighbouring state, having a coffee, placing a bet, and then driving home – it’s a considerable amount of money being lost by the state through tax revenue, and something very frustrating for would be players too as the lack of availability means resorting to methods like these simply to enjoy sports betting.
It’s something that’s proven to be extremely effective in economic recovery across many states that have recently introduced these options, Colorado has become somewhat of a poster child after two very successful years throughout the pandemic period showing the huge demand if done correctly, with some suggestions that sports gaming as a whole is up by 650% since 2019 across the US and sports betting in particular making up 13% of total revenues showing just how much has changed in a very short period of time.
With the current priorities for MA already being outlined for a focus on the American Rescue Plan Act funding, election reforms, mental and behavioural health parity, and redrawing political district lines whilst focussing on closing the books for the 2021 fiscal year, not including sports betting and all of the tax revenue that it brings will seem like a strange choice for many onlookers – the hope will be that change can be implemented early in 2022, but with all of the set backs seen recently, it’s also difficult to really know what to expect.