What Would Sports Betting in Massachusetts Look Like If It is Legalized?

What Would Sports Betting in Massachusetts Look Like If It is Legalized?

If the state can get its legislative act together and legalize Massachusetts sports betting, it will provide another large market to the burgeoning sportsbook industry, raise substantial tax money for the state and reduce the volume being wagered by residents in neighboring states. That would likely affect New Hampshire and Rhode Island most.

Though there’s no major professional sports action in the western part of the state or in Cape Cod, Boston is home to historic, top-tier franchises in all the major sports leagues: The Red Sox in baseball, Patriots in football, Celtics in basketball and Bruins in hockey. 

The MLS soccer team is the New England Revolution, also owned by Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and the team plays in Gillette Stadium. There are also minor league baseball teams in Massachusetts if betting on minor league baseball becomes a thing.

Betting on in-state college games is allowed in some states, but it’s not likely to allowed in Massachusetts. You most likely will be permitted to wager on a game between Providence and UConn, but not on a game between either of those schools and Boston College. So there might still be reasons to take a drive to New Hampshire besides skiing and leaf peeping.

The state House and Senate still need to reach an agreement on their differing versions of their proposals before a bill can go before Gov. Charlie Baker for a signature so that Massachusetts can legalize sports betting. On May 19, Eric Lesser, Michael Rodrigues and Patrick O’Connor were named the Senate's three conference committee members to negotiate a deal; they are joined by House counterparts Aaron Michlewitz, David Muradian and Jerry Parisella.

Among other things, the House and Senate versions disagree on college sports betting (the Senate version would ban it) and tax rate.

Rabid Sports Fans

The population of Massachusetts (6.9 million) is a far cry from New York (19.5 million), but there is still reason for optimism that the Bay State could be a strong addition to the sports wagering scene. Most of it has to do with its rabid sports fans.

Massachusetts is similar in size to Indiana (6.7 million) and the midwest state has proven to be a stalwart among legal sports betting states. In March, Indiana had a handle of $476 million, but that dropped to $360 million in April. Still, with Boston teams to wager on, you can reasonably expect the state to have between $400 million to $500 million regularly in handle during peak season, depending on the college limitations.

Also consider nationwide sports betting powerhouse DraftKings, which is headquartered in Boston. The company would like to see Massachusetts have a thriving sports betting industry. It would be a home game every day for the gaming company.

Three Casinos Ready

With its giant Encore Casino already in place in Boston Harbor, Wynn Resorts is chomping at the bit for a sportsbook. The same goes for MGM’s Springfield property and Penn National’s Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, where there’s wagering on live harness racing from April through November, and wagering on simulcast races year-round. 

It is the only site in the state for live horse racing since Suffolk Downs, a thoroughbred track in East Boston, closed in 2019, the latest chapter in the long on-again off-again history of Massachusetts gambling. Suffolk Downs remains open for simulcasting. Dog racing has been illegal in Massachusetts since 2010.

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Contributors

Howard Gensler
Journalist / Reporter

Howard Gensler is a veteran journalist covering the Massachusetts sports betting market for BetMassachusetts.com. Before his focus on U.S. sports betting, Howard worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Howard is also a founding editor of bettorsinsider.com.

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