Massachusetts Betting Bill Could Be Expanded to Include College Sports

Massachusetts Betting Bill Could Be Expanded to Include College Sports

Massachusetts currently has a sports betting bill under deliberation in the Senate that was initially expected to pass. However, an 11th-our attempt by certain supporters to expand the parameters to include legal collegiate sports betting has held up the process—and threatens to undermine the future of sports betting throughout the Bay State altogether.

It originally looked like legal sports betting in Massachusetts would be implemented in 2022 without much push-back. Though the proposal eventually settled on by the state is more restrictive than it is in some other areas, the knowledge that legalized sports betting in the USA is now a majority rule throughout the country left many supporters willing to compromise just so they could get anything passed. But now that the Massachusetts betting bill is with the Senate, some of its backers are trying to expand it to include legal gambling on college sports.

This last-minute request was not unexpected, but it has become a roadblock to getting sports betting in Massachusetts. Many of the state's officials have been adamant that college sports have no place in the bill, and they also remain unwilling to loosen other restrictions on payment methods and advertising. Will they eventually change their tune? Will proponents of college sports betting in Massachusetts be forced to make additional concessions? Or, worse, could the 2022 Massachusetts sports betting bill now entirely fall apart if the two sides don't find a palatable middle ground?

Massachusetts Betting Bill Loaded with Restrictions

Despite the fact that Massachusetts appeared on course to legalize all forms of sports betting outside college, there are pro-gambling government officials who have maintained the bill is a hollow gesture as currently constructed.

House Speaker Ron Mariano, a Democrat, has been among the most vocal when it comes to criticizing the present structure of the bill. While his main qualm is he doesn't see the point of omitting college sports from the legislation, he also doesn't understand why the state also plans to prevent bettors in Massachusetts from bankrolling wagers with credit cards and insists on limiting the amount anyone sportsbook operator can spend on advertising within the region. "It's hard for me to figure out what the purpose of the Senate Bill is," he recently told reporters, according to MassLive.com.

Mariano's stance has gained traction among other sports-betting proponents. But there are many in support of the current bill who think he's completely missing the mark. These people argue Massachusetts has installed the current restrictions to help limit and prevent the development of gambling problems. “This bill implements robust preventive measures for problem gambling and provides significant support for consumers who find themselves in over their heads,” Senate Chairman Michael Rodrigues said, per MassLive.com.

Both sides are making valid points. Some will be quick to call out the gambling hard-liners for including so many restrictions, but the messaging of these officials has at least been consistent. The current sports betting bill, for example, mandates the creation of a compulsive gambling program through the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

The Problem with Massachusetts' Current Sports Betting Bill

Left untouched, the current Massachusetts legal sports betting bill is, indeed, well-intentioned.

But is it actually effective?

The vast majority of legal sports betting supporters argue that it's not. Their belief is that precluding people in Massachusetts from betting on college sports will only succeed in driving them to offshore sportsbooks that take such wagers. In contrast, counterparts believe that have legalized betting on professional sports will limit how many people look for alternatives online. They've also argued that offshore sports betting isn't as big of a market as people think.

This latter point couldn't be less true.

Right now, anyone in Massachusetts has the ability to peruse our reviews of the top online sportsbooks, and they'll invariably find one if not more than one, operator who is willing to take their bets on both professional and college sports. It would be foolish to believe otherwise.

Massachusetts is Costing Themselves Sports Betting Money

After weighing all the factors, it's easy to understand where Senator Mariano is coming from. This current sports betting bill in Massachusetts is basically a half-measure. And by alienating anyone who wishes to invest in betting odds on college football or betting odds on college basketball, specifically, the state is only costing themselves money—a boatload of it, actually.

Gambling experts estimate that legal sports betting is worth hundreds of millions in annual revenue to the state of Massachusetts. Even if college sports represent only a fraction of that, we're still talking about tens of millions of dollars. Just think about how many people like to bet on the College Football National Championship or bet on the March Madness Tournament. Those events alone are worth tens of millions in sports betting revenue.

On top of that, if Massachusetts doesn't legalize college sports betting, they'll inevitably be chasing away money from pro sports betting, as well. Anyone who uses an offshore sportsbook to bet on college sports probably isn't signing up with a separate site to place wagers on professional teams. They're more likely to use the best online sportsbook that can service all their needs.

This is ultimately why we expect the sports betting hardliners in Massachusetts to walk back their rigidity. Studies have shown that offshore betting drops by around 20 or more percent during the first year of domestic legal sports betting, giving the state every incentive to expand the parameters of its present bill. 

As a potential compromise, Massachusetts could demand that more money be invested in the compulsive gambler's program. They can also insist the limit on advertising from each sportsbook operator remain in place, too. At this point, that seems like the best outcome for all parties involved.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that will allow you to place all your wagers: