As Massachusetts lawmakers continue to negotiate a sports betting bill, a new UMass Amherst / WCVB poll shows a plurality of respondents support the legalization of sports gambling.
Forty-two percent of those surveyed either strongly support or somewhat support legal sports betting in the commonwealth.
Sports betting is legal and live in 30 states and the District of Columbia. It is legal but not yet live in another 5 states. Efforts to make sports betting legal in Massachusetts have stalled over the years.
However, legal sports betting is closer to reality than ever in the commonwealth. The state’s House and Senate have passed dueling versions of a bill. Six lawmakers – three from each chamber – are in negotiations to produce an agreed-upon bill.
Lawmakers face a July 31 deadline to pass a bill and send it to Gov. Charlie Baker, who is a longtime proponent of sports betting.
Survey says …
One-third of the UMass Amherst / WCVB poll respondents said they neither support nor oppose legal sports betting. Twenty-three percent said they somewhat support legal wagering, and 19% strongly supported it.
A combined 23% either somewhat or strongly opposed.
“Although only one-fifth would place bets if sports gambling were legalized in the commonwealth, more than 40% of residents support legalization and another third have mixed views,” said Jesse Rhodes, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and associate director of the poll. “Meanwhile, only 11% strongly oppose legalization. Given these numbers, it seems quite possible that a majority may come around to supporting legalization, especially if advocates mount a campaign.”
What sports bets would you make?
Based on responses, the NFL would be most popular among Massachusetts bettors. A combined 26% of respondents said they would definitely or probably place a wager on the NFL if sports betting were to become legal.
Twenty-one percent said they would definitely or probably place a wager on the NBA, 20% on Major League Baseball and 18% on the NHL.
If betting on college sports is allowed in the commonwealth, 17% said they would bet on college basketball. Another 16% said they would bet on college football.
YouGov interviewed 1,131 total respondents, who were matched down to a sample of 1,000 to produce the final dataset. The interviews occurred from June 15-21. The margin of error is 3.5%.
The Massachusetts Legislature’s Sports Wagering Conference Committee met June 9 to begin discussions on a sports betting bill. The public portion of the meeting lasted a few minutes before the committee went into executive session to conduct discussions privately.
No other public meetings have happened or have been scheduled since.
Among key differences in the House and Senate bills:
- The House legalizes betting on professional and college sports; the Senate prohibits betting on college sports;
- The Senate taxes online sports wagering at 35% and in-person betting at 20%; the House prescribes tax rates of 15% and 12.5%, respectively;
- The Senate allows nine sports betting licenses – one for each casino and six untethered mobile operators; the House allows each casino to have three skins, three horse racetracks to have one and unlimited untethered mobile licenses;
- The Senate bans sports betting TV advertising during game broadcasts;
- The Senate does not allow for credit card deposits.
The committee is composed of state Sens. Eric Lesser, Patrick O’Connor and Michael Rodrigues and state Reps. Jared Parisella, Aaron Michlewitz and David Muradian.