There are a number of states looking to legalize sports betting in 2021, and Massachusetts is included in that group. Massachusetts actually looks to be one of the states guaranteed to legalize the industry, but nothing is a guarantee until an official bill is signed.
Two New England states have already legalized sports betting, and that has put some pressure on Massachusetts to keep up. It appeared that sports betting was set to be legalized in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately shut things down.
Governor Charlie Baker is in support of legalizing sports betting, and he has urged lawmakers to get something done in 2021. Usually, when the governor is in support of a legal measure, it means that something is imminent and will be at the forefront of discussions.
Economy Needs Help
One of the biggest reasons that Massachusetts is looking to legalize sports betting in 2021 is because the state is staring at a massive budget deficit. This is partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the state has had economic issues for some time.
Proponents of sports betting have estimated that the state could see close to $50 million in tax revenue each year. These projections might be a little high for the first few years, but Massachusetts could turn into a major market in New England.
Another thing that lawmakers are hoping to eliminate in the state is the illegal betting market. Currently, residents are utilizing offshore sportsbooks to place their bets, even though it is technically against the law.
Governor Baker was looking to include sports betting into his most recent budget but ultimately had to remove it when it became clear that a sports betting bill would not pass in 2020.
Teams, Sportsbooks Provide Support
Massachusetts is home to a number of professional sports teams, and several of these are storied franchises. The Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, and New England Patriots all supported a sports betting measure in 2020, and these teams will help keep the pressure on in 2021.
Along with these teams, both DraftKings and FanDuel have expressed support for a legalized sports betting industry in the state. These companies have a strong presence in that part of the country and would be looking to launch a sportsbook if they were given the opportunity.
It is not uncommon for professional teams and sportsbooks to get involved with state politics when it comes to sports betting.
Plans Already in Place
There was already plenty of discussion around sports betting in 2020, and that could allow lawmakers to move quickly in 2021. The previous bill would have allowed for 11 online sports betting licenses to be available.
The seven casinos in the state would be allowed to apply for a license, and a license would be available for both DraftKings and FanDuel. That would leave two other licenses available for a pair of online operators to enter the state.
There is still plenty of work to be done, but lawmakers could move quickly to legalize sports betting in 2021.