Featured in this article:
  • Massachusetts House Unveils Budget Without Sports Betting Revenue
  • Governor Supports Regulating Sports Betting
  • Senate Proposal Could Push Sports Betting Into Budget

The Massachusetts House of Representatives unveiled their budget for the next year without including any sports betting revenue. Lawmakers introduced varying proposals for regulating sports wagers during the 2021 legislative session. But none of the plans made their way into the fiscal year 2022 $47.6 billion budget.

This does not mean regulated sports betting in the Commonwealth is doomed. However, it is a bad sign for supporters of expanded gambling options.

Governor Supports Massachusetts Sports Betting

Massachusetts sports betting regulation has a powerful backer in popular Governor Charlie Baker. The Republican has long supported tapping into additional gambling revenue. In his proposed 2022 FY budget, he banked on generating at least a new $35 million for government coffers. Neighboring New York progressed online sports betting from a line item in the governor’s budget proposal into law this spring.

massachusetts governor charlie baker

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker supports expanded sports betting.

But Massachusetts sports betting appears to be on a different path. Each chamber in the legislature launched competing gambling proposals. Despite Democratic control of both halls, apparently a compromise remains elusive.

Some supporters argue for more licenses while others fear a runaway gambling market. The model Massachusetts lawmakers settle upon may determine the viability of any wagering bill.

Control Versus Competition for Betting Operators

New York’s new online sports wagering system focuses on the state tightly controlling the betting marketplace. Though the new law still faces implementation difficulties, it provides one path for Massachusetts.

Conversely, Maryland’s recent sports betting model sells a flood of operator’s licenses. Where New York may have only four companies involved in taking online wagers, Maryland contemplates having sixty. Each state creating its own regime for regulated sports betting provides opportunity for good ideas to win out. For Massachusetts, politicians are struggling between competing interests and stakeholders.

The Bay State has a long history of tightly regulating businesses. But equity concerns over whether minority-owned companies will be shut out of the licensing process linger. Maryland’s vast expansion of the number of licenses issued is one possible solution to this problem.

What’s Next For Massachusetts Sports Betting Regulation?

The amendment process as the budget bill winds its way through the legislature is unwieldy. At least 1,100 provisions have already been tacked on to the House bill. So far, none of them relate to regulating Massachusetts sports betting.

Massachusetts State House

Mass State House

However, unlike other states, the Massachusetts state house sits in session all year long. Therefore, there is time to work on reaching a solution that incorporates everyone’s interests.

Now that the House unveiled their proposed budget, hopes for more gaming rest in the Senate. If the Senate includes revenue from sports betting in its plan, it will push the issue front and center.

But even if wagering is not included in the 2022 FY Massachusetts budget, standalone bills remain a possibility. The additional revenue created from an entirely new source remains a powerful draw for gambling supporters. Realistically, Patriots fans may not be able to bet on their boys this fall. Instead, Red Sox fans still may hold out hope for Opening Day 2022. Nothing says spring like a hotdog and a moneyline parlay at storied Fenway Park.

Brad Vanderhide

Brad Vanderhide is an avid blackjack player and sports bettor whose only rule is to never wager on or against his beloved Cleveland Browns. With a background in politics, law, and government compliance, his writing provides a high-level overview of the changing online gambling landscape. As a native Ohioan, Brad cannot wait for his state to get out of its own way and open up legalized sport betting and online casino gaming.

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