Committee members previously concluded that approving sports wagering could pump over $35 million into the state’s general fund within the first year.
By leaving the $35 million in revenue out of the proposed budget, proponents of legalizing sports gambling in the state have suffered a setback.
Lawmakers expressed frustration at the move but leadership maintains that sports gambling is no easy compromise for the bill writers.
“I don’t think it’s as easy as some people may suspect it may be,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said.
”I’ve already found some different viewpoints into how we should proceed with it already with some of the various members,” he continued.
“I think that (sports betting) is going to require a lot of discussion … I’m also aware it could be an important source of revenue.”
Sports wagering had not received a public hearing during this legislative session, so the delay is not a complete surprise to residents of Massachusetts.
The inability of the House to agree on the matter does come as a slight frustration as legislators have been eager to find new sources of revenue.
Instead, the House budget focuses on generating new tax revenue elsewhere, a stipulation that rankles minority Republicans.
State Rep. Brad Hill, one of the most vocal Republicans for sports betting, calling the lack of legislation disappointing because of lost revenue to neighboring states where sports wagering is legal.
“The budget is truly the place where that debate should be happening,” Hill said.
“Other states around us have already implemented the law which allows this gaming to take place, and we are losing revenue to those states,” Hill continued.
We need to have this up and running sooner rather than later so that we can take full advantage of these upcoming sports events that will take place in the fall.”
Hill attempted to fight the order with an amendment to reintroduce a sports gambling debate only to have the measure shot down along party lines 121-31.
The House Order rejection of Hill’s amendment read, “(There would be no more amendment discussion) that would authorize any form of illegal gaming and authorize or regulate any form of gaming not presently authorized.”
The order continued, “Or regulated in the commonwealth, including, without limitation, online wagering, online lottery or sports wagering.”
Chances are strong that the House will bring sports wagering back up for debate within the committee at some point later this year.
But several lawmakers concede that sports betting may get tabled until this time next year.
For residents of Massachusetts waiting to place their first legal wager on the Red Sox or Patriots, they’ll have to wait a little longer.
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