Massachusetts Latest Budget Proposal May Include Sports Betting

Massachusetts Latest Budget Proposal
  • Governor’s bill seems the front runner for betting legislation in MA
  • Previous attempts since 2019 have stalled
  • 2022 FY budget will potentially include sports wagering: Senate amendments clarify

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2019 Attempts To Legalize Sports Betting in MA Failed

Once PASPA was overturned in 2018, Massachusetts was quick to get some sports betting bills on the schedule for discussion. Governor Charlie Baker, a moderate Republican, was surprisingly amenable to offering sports betting in the Bay State, even going so far as to sponsor his own H.68 in support of legalizing the practice.

H.68 was re-worked and became H.366, which was again drafted into  H.4559, but no further action was taken on that bill as recently as January 2021. Attempts continue, even by the governor himself, who filed H.70 in February– the text of which is essentially a sum of the last two years of sports wagering debates.

Different versions of the 2022 FY budget do include sports betting revenues, signaling that some lawmakers expect to legalize sports betting in some form. The discussions over the budget continue, and likely will be coming to a head in May 2021 when the Senate and House meet.

2022 Budget Includes Sports Betting Revenue Amendments and More

Massachusetts legislators still haven’t finalized the fiscal year budget for 2022. The House has put forward their proposal, while the Senate is currently debating over their version of the budget.

The House and Senate will meet regarding budgetary concerns for 2022 later in the month of May, and it’s expected that numerous representatives and senators will have their say on legalized sports betting. Amendments are being filed as we speak to clarify the language of the budget, some of which have included provisions for sports wagering.

One such amendment is 713, proposed by Senator Bruce E. Tarr. The amendment defines gaming licenses, prohibited events, and more, indicating that sports betting in the Bay State is a matter of “when”, not “if”. Nothing is certain: this isn’t Tarr’s first attempt at amending the budget to include revenues from sports betting in a bid to move forward with a bill, but hopefully, he won’t have to push for much longer.

On the less optimistic side, however, the MA House did not opt to include sports betting revenues in their FY 2022 proposal. That’s not a clear indicator that sports betting won’t become a reality in Massachusetts, but a definite sign that bills won’t get the traction they need until 2022 at the earliest.

Next Steps

May 24th is the date proposed for the debate on the 2022 budget. With over 1,000 amendments to the budget being considered, the process is likely to be a lengthy one, and sports betting is expected to be a part of the conversation. The MA Legislature meets all year until December 2021, so there’s still time to put sports betting revenue on the books and move one step closer to having a fully realized legal betting framework in the Bay State.

However, if the debates end without an agreement to include sports betting revenues for the 2022 budget, the process will have to start all over again. Gov. Baker and legislators alike seem open to legal sports wagering, so it’s likely to happen someday, but whether or not 2022 will be the launch date for legal sportsbooks in MA is still unclear.

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AUTHOR

Chris Altman

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Chris Altman is a traveling writer and content specialist covering everything from betting to plane crashes. He has been working in sports betting, specifically legislation for some time now, covering industry developments and the legal landscape of sportsbooks in the U.S. Chris is also a published short story writer and zine editor. Email: [email protected]

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