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Massachusetts Senate Kills Sports Betting Bill, Likely Ends Hope of Legalization in 2020

Massachusetts Senate Kills Sports Betting Bill, Likely Ends Hope of Legalization in 2020 article feature image

Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images. Pictured: Rafael Devers

Just one day ago, hope for legalized sports betting in Massachusetts was riding high. Now, it’s all but gone.

After the Massachusetts House passed an economic development bill that included legalized sports betting, the state’s Senate advanced a version of the bill without sports betting language.

At this point, legalized sports betting in 2020 looks unlikely for Massachusetts, but it’s not dead forever.

“As it relates to sports gaming, sports wagering, I believe that certainly, the time is close when we are going to be tackling this issue, but the time is not now,” Sen. Michael Rodrigues said on the Senate floor, according to MassLive. “Nor is this the proper vehicle to do so in.”

Multiple amendments were made to the package in an effort to keep sports betting included, but the Senate rejected them.

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If the bill passed, it would’ve headed to the desk of Governor Charlie Baker, a strong proponent of legalized sports betting in Massachusetts.

Instead, lawmakers who want to see legalized sports betting become a reality will have to find another way to make it happen.

The Legislature typically ends its session on July 31, but there has been a push to extend the time frame because of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With an extended session, lawmakers would find themselves with an opportunity to pass a sports betting bill that isn’t attached to a jobs bill.

Although passing through the Senate was never a sure thing, the potential for legalized sports betting had come a long way in the past week alone.

Attaching sports betting language to a broader economic plan served as a way to fast-track the bill, and the House showed it was on board with a 156-3 vote on Wednesday.

The Boston Red Sox — needing revenue in one way or another — had even teamed up with DraftKings, FanDuel, and MGM in an effort to pass a sports betting bill.

The House’s version of the bill also would have allowed for a larger number of licenses for in-person and online betting.

Now, the Legislature has to start over.

If any changes were to be made to the Senate’s bill, it would return once again to the Senate before heading to the governor’s desk.

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