Massachusetts missed out on a chance to legalize sports betting this year, but that hasn’t stopped discussions from taking place. One of the biggest points of debate is what lawmakers should do regarding betting on collegiate events.
University presidents and athletic directors hope that the state bans betting on collegiate events, and they took action earlier this week. University leaders from eight different schools sent a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, urging him to support the ban.
This letter also mentioned Senate President Karen Spilka, and the presidents are hoping to get out in front of this issue. Lawmakers are not currently discussing sports betting, but they want their opinions known before the topic is brought back up.
These schools are worried that allowing betting on collegiate events will hurt the integrity of the sports, and this has been a common theme in the world of collegiate athletics. The presidents and athletic directors support the legalization of sports betting, but only if their sport is protected.
There are only two schools, Boston College and U-Mass Amherst, that play FBS football, one of the biggest draws for sportsbooks. Several other schools in the state play division 1 men’s and women’s basketball, and these sports are popular.
DeLeo and Spilka did not comment on their thoughts regarding the letter, but the schools are willing to take more action to get their message heard.
Lawmakers Eyeing 2021 Launch
It appeared that Massachusetts lawmakers were set to legalize sports betting in 2020, but things fell apart rather quickly. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic played a role in ending discussions, but a sports betting bill simply didn’t generate enough lawmakers’ support.
Massachusetts is looking for new sources of revenue, and the sports betting industry can certainly provide that. Unfortunately, lawmakers ran out of time in 2020, but this issue is expected to be picked back up in 2021.
Most industry experts believe that Massachusetts will legalize sports betting early in 2021, with plans to launch before the start of the 2021 NFL season. That would be a quick turnaround, but some of the details are already in place.
Rhode Island and New Hampshire are the only two states in New England that offer sports betting. This would allow Massachusetts to become a huge force in that area if lawmakers can get a bill passed.
Some of the industry’s biggest names have already expressed their desire to offer sports betting in the state.
Other States Have Set Precedent
Massachusetts is not the first state to deal with this issue, and state lawmakers could perhaps look to other states to see how they have addressed the issue. The NCAA has taken a hard stance against betting on collegiate events, and it has forced states to make a tough decision.
The biggest reason that states have tried to allow betting on collegiate events is that the NCAA offers two extremely popular sports. Betting on college football is almost as popular as the NFL, and the NCAA March Madness Tournament is a huge event each year.
New Jersey has emerged as one of the sports betting industry leaders, and they allow betting on some collegiate events. Sportsbooks cannot offer bets on any collegiate events that take place in the state of New Jersey or that feature teams from the Garden State.
Indiana and Pennsylvania are two states that allow betting on all collegiate events, but they have placed restrictions on who can and cannot bet. All staff, students, and athletes are forbidden from placing any sports bets.