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The NBA Finals are on television now and the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors are fighting it out for the Championship, and millions of Codfish State gamblers would love to put some money on the games and take financial advantage (maybe) of their team’s dominance.
But they can’t, because their state lawmakers are still at odds with how a legal sports betting market in Massachusetts should look there.
Must be tough to watch one of your state’s oldest professional sports franchises in the international spotlight but not be able to place a legal bet on your favorite team, and that’s exactly what Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is watching happen in his state right now.
Last week, Gov. Baker told the media:
Without a legal way to [place sports bets], it’s a little bit like the marijuana issue. You just leave the black market there, and you don’t sort of bring it out of the shadows and make it part of the regular crime. I think we should do that.
It’s true there and in every other state – with no legal sports betting market in place, hungry gamblers turn to either illegal bookies or unregulated offshore sportsbooks, and all that money flows out of the state and instead of being taxed, just like weed had been treated for years.
It’s the same MA lawmakers who made recreational marijuana legal there who are now holding this sports betting issue up.
As we recently reported in AGA Issues Sports Betting Warning to MA Lawmakers as Bill Deadline Looms, there are certain deal breakers that are holding up this issue in Massachusetts, with members of each chamber landing on different sides of some critical regulatory issues.
For example, some MA lawmakers want to legalize betting on college sports as well, whereas others think that market should be avoided; also some legislators have no problem with unrestricted sports betting ads, whereas others want to limit their existence.
The final struggle in MASS comes from deciding what tax rate to put in the bill, with some state leaders wanting to charge sportsbooks a higher rate – 35% on online revenue and a 15% for in-person – and others wanting to go lower, with plusses and minuses to both sides.
Meanwhile, all that potential handle is still escaping outwards.
As Governor Baker has figured out:
There are a lot of people who literally just drive out of Massachusetts so that they can bet on sports, and it’s happening all over the country.
That’s because most of the states in New England have already legalized sports betting for their residents, and it’s somewhat easy for MA border residents to make the drive to New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island and send all their action out of state.
Time is running out for compromise, however, with Massachusetts’ current legislative session ending on July 31, less than two months to figure out how to strike a balance on those important issues and make legal sports betting work the way they did for recreational marijuana.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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