Other Priorities May Monopolize MA Senate’s “Bandwidth,” Bumping Sports Betting Again

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated October 14, 2022
3 min read
Ma Bumping Sports Betting Again
  • MA Sen. Pres. Karen Spilka Says Other Priorities Could Supersede Sports Betting Talks
  • This Could Mark Second Senate Snub of MA House’s Sports Betting Legislation
  • While MA Senate Stalls on Legal Sports Betting Issue, State Neighbors Do Not

MA Sen. Pres. Karen Spilka Says Other Priorities Could Supersede Sports Betting Talks

Despite Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka’s prior expectations of a “robust debate” over the legal sports betting issue during their fall session, her comments in an interview last Thursday with the State House News Service seem to indicate otherwise.

Now, says Spilka, discussions on whether the Codfish State will join its neighbors in launching a legal sports betting operation for its residents will depend on available “bandwidth,” meaning there are other more important topics on the Senate’s upcoming agenda.

According to Spilka, the MA Senate has a list of major priorities to address in their fall session, indicating that these five issues critical to the state are to be first in line before any sports betting talks will take place:

  1. The use of the state government’s American Rescue Act funding
  2. Budgeting out the books on this fiscal year
  3. Election reforms
  4. Mental and behavioral health
  5. Redrawing political district lines

This would not be the first time there has been a Senatorial delay on the sports gambling issue in Massachusetts.

This Could Mark Second Senate Snub of MA House’s Sports Betting Legislation

Last year, the Massachusetts House approved a different sports betting bill, but the Senate rejected it largely because it was attached to an economic development bill instead of being proposed on its own.

Earlier in 2021, the MA House overwhelmingly passed a newer sports betting bill by a 156-3 vote, with Governor Charlie Baker offering his full support, saying “…it’s time to act and get this done…” as that piece of legislation, Senator Eric Lesser’s bill S 269, still awaits Senatorial approval.

The newer bill has reportedly not been amended since it was first introduced in March, which is not a good sign that this issue has ever been considered a priority in the Bay State the way it is now in many of its neighboring states.

With many of Massachusetts’ neighbors – New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and soon Connecticut – moving forward with legal sports betting, it should be enough to get some Senatorial discussions rolling, especially given how lucrative it can be.

However, the potential tax revenue generated by legal sports betting was apparently not a selling point for Spilka, telling the State House News Service that she is “not certain that there’s a need for even more money” to address state transportation issues.

Industry analysts have made revenue projections for Massachusetts sports betting, predicting somewhere between $11 million and $45 million annually at a 10% tax rate, relatively modest numbers for a state that deals in billions of tax dollars per year.

But given that Massachusetts bettors are already spending millions of dollars a year on sports betting by either traveling to neighboring states or trusting offshore sportsbooks with their wagers, it would only make sense that state leaders would work to regulate that existing business and benefit from whatever monies it already generates.

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Mike Lukas

Sports Betting & Gambling Industry Analyst

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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.
Nationality: American
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