When Will Massachusetts Legalize Sports Betting?

There is no question that many Massachusetts residents love their professional and collegiate sports. The latest data shows that 54.7% of the state’s residents actively follow sports teams and events, and 41.8% of the population watches at least one sporting event each week.

This is even more impressive when you consider that only 24.9% of the state’s residents follow sports closely, compared to 39.3% of the rest of the country. Additionally, fans are more engaged in games and events that are closer to home. While 70.2% of sports fans in other parts of the country follow baseball, basketball and football, the data shows that hockey is the most popular sport in Massachusetts.

This year, the Massachusetts Legislature convened for the 82nd Regular Session. One of the most hotly contested issues was whether to legalize sports betting in the state. Bill proponents argued that it was time for the state to get on board with today’s technology and accept wagers on sporting events. Opponents contended that the state should not be in the business of regulating gambling, particularly given the fact that many of the residents of the commonwealth are already engaged in similar activities, both legally and/or otherwise.

When Will Sports Betting Be Available?

At this writing, there are five separate bills in the Legislature that would allow for expanded sports wagering in some form in the state. As each bill is filed, it will undergo a public hearing and debate. It is highly likely that at least one of these bills will be signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker, who has been a vocal proponent of sports betting legalization since taking office in January 2017.

The first bill to receive some degree of legislative approval is S.B. 276, the Massachusetts Competitive Gaming and Consumer Protection Act. Sponsored by Senator Jamie Eldridge, this bill would remove all sports related wagering from the state’s anti-gambling statute, and allow for the establishment of casinos, racing leagues, and other forms of competition around the state. If passed, it would allow for the licensing and regulation of sports betting in Massachusetts.

Eldridge’s bill is one of the more comprehensive legalization proposals filed this year. It also has the backing of the National Football League (NFL). In fact, the NFL has been one of the most active proponents of sports betting legalization, filing amicus briefs supporting Eldridge and his bill. The latest data shows that 17.9% of the Massachusetts population plays fantasy sports, a game which incorporates some aspects of gambling. With fantasy sports becoming a popular pastime for Massachusetts residents, it is not hard to imagine how this legislation would benefit the industry.

Why Should Massachusetts Care About Legalizing Sports Betting?

The data clearly demonstrates that a significant portion of the commonwealth’s population is highly engaged in sports activities. This puts the state in an ideal position to potentially profit from the nationwide interest in sports. Additionally, the state’s large population base makes it a target for many online sports betting operators. If successful, these operators could offer legitimate online sportsbooks to residents of the commonwealth. This would create additional economic opportunities for the state, as well as provide its residents with a trustworthy option for sports betting.

As previously mentioned, the state’s existing sports betting market is illegal. However, many residents still flock to places like Nevada and New Jersey to make wagers on games. Additionally, there are numerous offshore wagering sites that cater to Massachusetts residents, many of which are notoriously untrustworthy. With legislation like Eldridge’s bill pending, it would be a good idea for the state to regulate and monitor these activities.

Are There Other States Looking To Legalize Sports Betting?

To the best of our knowledge, there are no other states considering legislation that would legalize sports betting at this time. However, this does not mean that other states’ interests in sports betting legalization have waned. In fact, the opposite is true. The data reveals that interest in sports betting is on the rise. Thirty-one percent of the country’s population is now familiar with fantasy sports, while 19.9% play daily fantasy sports, and 11.8% are active participants in weekly fantasy leagues. As these numbers continue to grow, it is reasonable to assume that interest in sports betting will follow.

Given the current climate of the country and the world, it is not hard to understand why so many people are interested in legalized sports betting. Not only is it feasible to imagine a world where every game can be bet on, but it is something that many people feel passionately about.

If you are a sports fan who feels passionately about the subject, why not consider a career in sports betting? There are numerous jobs available, and it is not uncommon for casinos, bookies, and other ancillary businesses to hire sports enthusiasts. Additionally, since many people who enter the industry start out as fanatics, there is a wealth of knowledge already available to be tapped into. If you can’t get a job in sports, consider going into gaming instead. The knowledge you learn there can be applied to any number of sports bet areas. Plus, given the nature of the industry, you will be working with highly competitive people who also share your passion for the game.