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Massachusetts Senate Snuffs Sports Betting

So here we are on the final day of the legislative session in Massachusetts, and it looks like the wait for legalized sports betting will continue. 

The Senate removed all language related to regulating this vertical from an economic recovery bill on Wednesday night.

Sports betting had been voted in favor of by the House before the bill passed onto the Senate. Had they got their way, wagering would have been legalized across multiple platforms.

Language related to online lottery was also taken out of the bill. 

It looks like the timing won’t be right 

Sports betting in Massachusetts would have been regulated on mobile and desktop devices, as well as at licensed casinos and racetracks. 

It had formed part of a big economic revival plan, which aims to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 in the Bay State. According to MassLive, the Senate’s approved plan is worth $455 million. 

Senator Michael Rodrigues, who is also Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, explained that now isn’t a great time to talk about the possibility of legalizing sports betting. He said the following. 

“As it relates to sports gaming, sports wagering, I believe that certainly the time is close when we are going to be tackling this issue, but the time is not now.

“Nor is this the proper vehicle to do so in.”

Hope is not lost for sports betting in Massachusetts in 2020

While it looks like sports betting is going to be on hold for the time being, there’s still a chance that it might still be introduced this year. And there are politicians in the state who would welcome that happening. 

One of those is Sen. Eric Lesser, who is Senate Chair for the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. He has had the below to say. 

“This specific bill on this specific day, which we pointed out earlier in our session when debate began is about an emergency response economically to the coronavirus depression that we find ourselves in.

“At this specific moment, we need to hold.”

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has also expressed his sport for regulated sports betting in the past. 

MA players still have other options 

While the Codfish State itself hasn’t yet introduced legal sports betting, players have other options nearby. Both neighboring New Hampshire and Rhode Island have regulated wagering in this respect. It will now be easier for Massachusetts players to sign up for an account in Rhode Island, too, since the state recently removed its in-person registration requirement. 

Sen. Michael Brady filed an amendment for sports betting in Massachusetts. He is a Democrat for Brockton, which is roughly 30 minutes from Rhode Island by car. Brady says that he hears from constituents who say that they travel across the border to wager on sporting events. 

His reaction to sports betting being removed from the economic package is below. 

“This was an important piece of legislation and amendment put forth in this economic development bill that we’re doing today that would help people out”.

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