Slow and steady just might win the race in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A thorough research and deliberation process has Massachusetts on the precipice of approving legalized sports betting. Massachusetts has taken a very detailed approach since PASPA was overturned in May 2018 by Murphy v. NCAA, but it sure seems like bets on the New England Patriots are going to start rolling in very soon.
The proposed bill making its way through the Massachusetts legislature over Q1 and Q2 of 2020 has just about everything that bettors and operators would want. Aside from a higher tax rate on mobile or online wagers compared to retail wagers, the bill allows for oversight from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and would open up the state for several different operators.
As mentioned, online betting in Massachusetts would be allowed and the bill, which was originally discussed without the ability to bet on college sports, now includes both professional and college athletics and allows for both the brick-and-mortar operators of MGM, Wynn, and Penn National and the online-only operators like Boston-based DraftKings and FanDuel.
As is rarely the case in sports betting, it seems like everybody wins here. Encore Boston Harbor is the Wynn property, MGM Springfield would go to BetMGM, and then Plainridge Park Casino, which is owned by Penn National, who has licensing deals with several different operators across the United States for sports betting. That would be a potential landing spot for a Barstool sportsbook after Penn National and Barstool developed a partnership in January 2020. That was likely done with legalization in Massachusetts in mind.
If sports betting fails to make it through in 2020, which is a possibility given some of the reservations of some lawmakers, it should go through in 2021. Governor Charlie Baker is on board for the most part. His previous suggestion was a bill that left out wagering on college sports, but that appeared to be a political football of sorts in hopes of introducing sports betting legislation in a measured manner.
Now that the studies commissioned by the legislature seem to support the allowance of betting on college sports, those items should be in the final bill that goes to the governor’s desk and will more than likely be signed into law.
It has been a long, fairly drawn-out process in Massachusetts, but the commitment to get it right has been there all along and it seems like the Commonwealth is ready to get it right in either 2020 or 2021.
How Do I Bet on Sports in Massachusetts?
While we wait for Massachusetts to adopt legalized sports betting in either 2020 or 2021, there are options for those that want to get their bets in. New Hampshire takes mobile bets through DraftKings via an exclusive partnership with the state lottery. All that would be required is for Massachusetts residents to be physically in the state of New Hampshire to place their wagers.
Rhode Island allows sports betting and has online and mobile capabilities through William Hill. New York has retail sports betting at its upstate casinos, but does not have any online or mobile capabilities at this point in time.
Connecticut will likely be approving sports betting legislation sooner rather than later, but CT is in a holding pattern right now, much like Massachusetts. It does seem like Massachusetts could be first to legalize, which is likely to drive some people up from Hartford to Springfield to bet.
Obviously there are a lot of other travel options, like Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Illinois with a trip to the Windy City to follow the Bruins, Celtics, or Patriots.
In terms of proximity, aside from Rhode Island and New Hampshire, bettors in Massachusetts will just have to bide their time and wait it out. Fortunately, the wait shouldn’t be that long.