Stakeholders Urge Legislators to Legalize Sports Betting in Massachusetts

Sportsbook operators and professional teams interested in Massachusetts’ sports betting future are still hounding legislators over legalizing sports betting in the state. Operators and interested sports parties came together to pen their signature in a letter, jointly sent to the Economic Development Conference Committee. The purpose of this letter was to urge legislators to include sports betting in the bill.

The letter expressed displeasure as these sporting entities believe that the heavy lifting required to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts has been done, leaving the final steps to the legislature.

The letter that was sent across had six signatories. These signatures were from important personalities in the sports betting industry who are increasingly frustrated by the delay.

Letter Signatories:

  • Andy Levison: Senior VP of the PGA Tour
  • Matt King: CEO of FanDuel
  • Sam Kennedy: CEO of the Boston Red Sox
  • Jason Robins: CEO of DraftKings
  • Chris Kelley: COO of the MGM Springfield
  • Robyn Glaser: Club Counsel for New England Patriots and Revolution

The Economics of MA Sports Betting

Many legislatures’ sole concern has been on tax revenue. This letter, in different areas, addressed that issue and why legalization is the way to go. The letter suggested that an estimated $50 million in immediate revenue would be injected into the FY2021 budget if sports betting becomes legal. It did not, however, speak on legal sports betting in New Hampshire or Rhode Island, which are very close to MA and already offer mobile sports betting and registration. Residents of Massachusetts could easily take a short trip to either of these places to place bets legally on sporting events.

It also pointed out, through an Oxford Economics study, that an estimated 1.4 million Massachusetts residents bet nearly $3.2 billion on sports illegally in the state. According to the letter, “the single most effective way to defeat the illegal market is to create a competitive, legal sports betting framework. The signatories to this letter stand ready to invest heavily to ensure a legal market in Massachusetts will thrive.”

Legalization in Massachusetts

The importance of sports betting right now in the eyes of the Senate is non-existent. A report stating this lack of interest is what spurred these organizations to come together and send a letter. Earlier this week, an amendment that would have added sports betting to the 2021 fiscal budget failed. It is worthy to note that the Senate acted similarly over the summer, rejecting multiple amendments to include sports wagering as it crafted its version of the economic development bill.

The House, however, is operating in direct contrast to the Senate. It is interested in getting sports betting legalized in the state as soon as possible. The vote to legalize sports betting in the House’s version of the economic development bill was decisive as the count ended 156-3 in favor. The bill passed in the House would have allowed seven sports betting licenses, three of which would have gone to the three casinos in the state, one to DraftKings, one to FanDuel , and two other sportsbooks who are interested in operating in the state.

The Senate President, Karen Spilka, has, however, come out to say that there is no urgency on sports betting legalization and that the focus is on conference committees, resolving the budget, and COVID-19.

In the past, two of the three casinos that operate in the state sent a letter to the committee. Hence, their absence from this latest letter. The leaders of the two casinos – Penn National and Wynn Resorts – in their letter stated that all three casinos in the state should be rewarded with sports betting licenses for their investment in Massachusetts. It reads, “Those that make actual investments in Massachusetts, assume legitimate risk, and incur costs to provide a service or benefit in the Commonwealth should be enfranchised under this legislation. Conversely, automatic windfalls to industries or interests which assume no new costs, risks, or obligations as a result of this type of expansion are not only harmful to the gaming industry’s interests but even more so, to the overall public interest.”

The letter expressed the gratitude of all signatories to the legislature for their continued work and leadership during these difficult times. It also asked that the work that got underway two years ago; be completed by passing sports betting as part of the economic development bill in this legislative session.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.