Sports Betting Remains on Hold in Massachusetts Senate
With two retail sportsbooks at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun launching in Connecticut Thursday and with mobile sports betting set to go live possibly next week, another New England state is still trying to figure things out.
Massachusetts state Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), in an interview Thursday with the State House News Service, said she is “not certain that there’s a need for even more money” to address state transportation issues. She said any chance for the Senate to take up gambling on sports would depend on available “bandwidth.”
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Over the next six weeks, Spilka would like to address five topics of urgent need before the legislature pauses again for the holiday break, and sports betting wasn’t one of the them.
The priorities included spending the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funding; a budget to close fiscal year 2021; state election reforms; mental and behavioral health parity; and the reconfiguration of political district lines.
When asked about the possibility of sports betting legislation this fall, Spilka told the news service that the Senate Ways and Means Committee — headed by Chairman Michael Rodrigues and Vice Chair Cindy Friedman — is looking into it.
There are no hearings scheduled in the near future, according to committee’s website, checked on Friday.
“We have to do redistricting, we have to close out the books and do a supp budget, we need to do a more permanent VOTES act, our temporary (provisions) end in December,” Spilka told the news service. “Some of it will depend upon bandwidth and how it stands.”
House Approved Sports Betting Bill
Over two months ago, the Massachusetts state House approved legal sports betting legislation, the second time the chamber has taken a vote on the issue. However, the state Senate has remained stagnant on it, passing on years of discussion and movement whether to have it or nixing the idea altogether.
The state Senate plans to debate and vote next week on an election reform bill Democrats put out on Thursday, with the timeline on Spilka’s other key priorities up in the air.
Massachusetts does have casinos, so it’s not anti-gambling. Three Massachusetts commercial casinos — Plainridge Park in Plainville, Encore Boston Harbor in Everett and MGM Springfield —reported $762,758,615 in combined handle for August. That’s the second-best month in the state after July’s $807,913,393.
Meanwhile, sports betting remains at a standstill.