BOSTON — Lawmakers have fumbled the ball with legalized sports betting as other states have cashed in, but Massachusetts could still get a piece of the action.

Sen. Brendan Crighton, D-Lynn, said he plans to refile a measure authorizing sports betting at racetracks and casinos and by mobile platforms such as DraftKings while establishing a system to tax and regulate the industry.

The proposal is similar to one he filed in the previous legislative session that would allow wagering on out-of-state collegiate sports as well as pro sports.

"Sports betting in Massachusetts isn't new," Crighton said Monday. "We're leaving money on the table, and it's going to the black market and other states."

Under his plan, sports betting would be regulated by the state Gaming Commission and operators would be taxed 15% for retail and online sales. Operators would be required to pay an application fee of $10 million, which is up substantially from $1 million floated in the previous plan.

The proposal is the latest attempt to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts two years after a U.S. Supreme Court court ruling allowed states to offer wagering.

The earlier proposal was tied to a $692 million economic development bill approved by the House and Senate in the final hours of the two-year session that wrapped up last week, but it didn't make it into the final version of the package.

Rep. Brad Hill, R-Ipswich, said he's among those "disappointed" that the state has not yet legalized sports wagering.

"This is way overdue," said Hill, who plans to refile a sports wagering proposal in the House. "We've had several years of debate on this, so there's no reason not to move ahead."

Hill said the state is losing out as residents bet on games in places where sports wagers have been legalized, including New Hampshire.

The effort received broad support from legislative leaders and Gov. Charlie Baker, who filed his own sports wagering proposals in the previous session. Baker, however, did not allow betting on college sports.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law barring sports gambling in nearly all states except Nevada, paving the way for wagers on games. The case involved New Jersey, which fought for years to allow sports gambling at casinos and racetracks.

Since then, at least two dozen states and Washington, D.C., have passed sports waging laws.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said more than $15.8 million has been wagered since sports betting became legal in the state last month.

Sununu boasted recently on social media: "Despite our beloved New England @Patriots not making it to the Super Bowl this year, sports betting is BOOMING in NH!"

More than 6,000 people signed up for sports betting when it launched Dec. 30, with about $250,000 in wagers placed in the first day, according to the New Hampshire Lottery.

Many of those bets were placed by Massachusetts residents, the lottery said.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. 

Trending Video

Recommended for you