By Bob Katzen
The House 151-2, Senate 36-4, approved and sent to Gov. Baker a bill that would legalize sports betting on professional and college sports for Massachusetts residents over 21 years old. Betting on Massachusetts colleges and universities would not be allowed unless the school is playing in a tournament like March Madness. The betting would be regulated by the Gaming Commission, the same commission that regulates the state’s casino gambling.
“Once signed by the governor, this new law will open a new industry for our commonwealth, creating jobs and economic growth,” said sponsor Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow). “It will also safeguard consumers and athletes with some of the strongest protections in the country while maintaining the integrity of sports.”
“The Massachusetts Legislature just pulled out all the stops, suspended several rules, and pulled an epic all-nighter to legalize sports betting,” said Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge). And yet, important housing justice provisions such as local rent stabilization, right to counsel in eviction and foreclosure matters, local option real estate transfer fees to support the production of affordable housing, tenant opportunity to purchase legislation, and eviction records sealing provisions) were all left for dead. As a product of public housing and a longtime renter, this makes me question our priorities. While I recognize there’s a compelling case in support of legalized sports betting and didn’t want to kill the bill, I can’t help but feel uncomfortable at how gambling was a “must do” this session but so many other urgent issues were either lesser priorities or ignored entirely.”
“Massachusetts residents are passionate about their sports. This legislation will allow fans to bet on their favorite teams but do so in a regulated manner that promotes responsible gaming, while bringing in millions of dollars of revenue that has been going to our neighboring states or to illegal online operators and bookies,” said Rep. Jerry Parisella (D-Beverly), House Chair of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.
“For those who are vulnerable to gambling addiction and their families, the legalization of sports betting and the coming onslaught of gambling-related advertising will have devastating consequences,” said Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem (D-Newton). “And for everyone else, sports betting still amounts to a regressive tax—one that will redistribute wealth from working people to the biggest players in the gambling industry. I’m also concerned about the effect that this law will have on amateur college athletes, who will face additional scrutiny, pressure, and temptation. Higher education leaders in the commonwealth have been clear that allowing wagering on collegiate contests will harm student athletes.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against the bill).
Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly No Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven No Sen. Patricia Jehlen No