The Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) research team will soon conduct a study into legal sports betting and its possible impacts on the state.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has ordered the study in hopes that findings will sway Massachusetts lawmakers into legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts lawmakers’ stance on legalizing sports betting in MA
While the Massachusetts senate has mainly remained disinterested in the topic. The state’s House of Representatives favors legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts. Previously in July, the House voted 156-3 in favor of a bill that would legalize sports betting for professional and college sports.
The inclusion of college sports betting in the Massachusetts bill has been a source of division. Both between the state’s House and the Senate.
Commissioner Brad Hill voted in favor of legalizing sports betting in July while still serving as a state representative. Regarding the ordered study, he said,
“I think this is going to be the issue that we’re going to be all dealing with in the future, and the more information we can get, the better to help us as we come up and make our decisions.”
Benefits of legalizing sports betting in MA
As it stands, while sports betting is not yet legal in Massachusetts, it has already been legalized in at least 30 other states. Among those states are MA neighbors New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
Residents of Massachusetts who currently wish to place bets need only to cross the state border to do so. In Massachusetts, legalizing sports betting would keep tax revenue from those sports bets within MA instead of neighboring states.
The bill that the House approved back in July includes stipulations for taxes on sports betting that would amount to:
- 5% on wagers placed in person
- 15% on wagers placed via mobile
People who support the legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts estimate that it would bring in $60 million in tax revenue to the state every year. An additional $80 million in revenue can estimate from fees for licensing that would need to renew once every five years.
Public health, workforce development, education, and economic programs would all benefit from the additional revenue.
Goals of the Massachusetts sports betting study
The overall aim of the study will be to convince lawmakers of the economic benefits that the legalization of sports betting would bring to the state. More specifically, the study would dig into:
- Existing data in surrounding states where sports betting is already legal
- What processes did those surrounding states follow when they implemented legal sports betting
- How to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legalization of sports betting in MA
How would legal sports betting in Massachusetts be handled?
Should sports betting be legalized in MA, it will likely fall under the oversight and regulation of the MGC. Currently, the MGC oversees casino gambling in Massachusetts. However, legal sports betting in the state would allow the MGC to issue in-person licenses for sports betting to take place.
- In casinos
- At racetracks
- At simulcast facilities for racing
- On mobile devices for online bets
When will the sports betting study take place?
The state’s fiscal year ends on June 30, 2022, and supporters of the legalization of sports betting in MA would like the measure to be considered for next year’s budget.
Commissioners are hoping SEIGMA’s team of researchers will complete the study by this fiscal deadline to move forward with the measure.
Mark Vander Linde is the MGC’s Director of Research and Responsible Gaming, and he supports every effort to expedite the sports betting study.
In regards to the proposed June 2022 timeline for the study’s completion, he said:
“I agree with that. If we could push this study to take a front seat for the team, that would be great. I can’t speak for them and how their work is being teed up right now, but I will certainly talk to them about this and express that it’s a priority.”
Sports betting in Massachusetts has struggled to gain legalization over recent years of discussions. In contrast, not all lawmakers are enthusiastic about moving forward with opening the state up to betting. The ordered study is the first step in moving the process forward.
Depending on the study’s findings, lawmakers may not be able to dispute the economic benefits of finally legalizing sports betting in MA. Only time will tell if Massachusetts will take its place in the ranks of the 30 other states. The state can hopefully flourish in sports betting in the future.