Two New England states were listed in an article by Abby Messick of CasinoCityTimes.com in an interesting list of “Top 10 US states to legalize sports betting.” Massachusetts and Connecticut were listed as 7th and 2nd respectively behind New Jersey to be the soonest to offer sports betting. All of this relies upon the legalization of sports betting in the U.S. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (A.K.A. PASPA), is a law that defines the legal status of sports betting throughout the United States, which basically outlawed sports betting nationwide, excluding a few states, Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana, the four states that were grandfathered in and can currently offer sports betting.
New Jersey continues to try to pave the way for the rest of the states with attempts from 2012 to authorize sports betting laws that challenged PASPA. According to Gary Trask of “The case, Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, centers around the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 and pits outgoing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie against the NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball), but could also very easily pave the way for other U.S. states to quickly begin offering regulated sports betting.”
Massachusetts & Connecticut
On to Abby Messick’s post, and then a brief look at the rest of New England’s sports betting possibilities.
There are no sports-betting-specific bills in Massachusetts right now, but key lawmakers are generating interest. State Senator Eileen Donoghue has introduced SD 2480, which would form a committee to study, regulate and examine further the idea of legal sports betting.
A white paper released by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in March touches on legislative movement in other states, takes a look at any other federal laws that could possibly impact sports betting in the U.S., and eyes potential operators. Plainridge Park, [Encore] Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield are throwing their support behind sports betting, as well. Perhaps most importantly, the white paper comes to the conclusion that sports betting would be a welcome new source of revenue for the state. And we all know how convincing an argument money is……..
We also think that the massive lobbying tactics of MGM could help turn PASPA around. Both Wynn & MGM have tons of experience from their Las Vegas casinos. MGM’s Borgata in New Jersey is already setting up it’s racebook area, anticipating a change in legislation.
The Connecticut Lottery Corporation remarked in a meeting last week that it’s “ready to operate sports betting.” Director of IT Steve Wager commented that sports betting is particularly suited to the lottery scene, and it would “just be another option.” [The latest bill] will allow casinos, horse racing tracks and off-track betting facilities to offer sports betting, in addition to language that allows for internet wagering and online lottery sales. But….the egregious 15% tax revenue, which, as we know from prior experience, is killer……….
Not to mention that the state’s tribes aren’t exactly happy with the bill’s proposed integrity fee. In a written statement on behalf of Foxwoods, Executive Director of Online Gaming Seth Young said, “While we support the legalization of sports gambling, as written this bill takes the power out of the hands of the state and transfers it directly to the sports leagues, where the leagues themselves would have the sole power to decide whether or not Connecticut will be allowed to try to recapture its illegal black market. The demands of the sports leagues make supporting this bill, as written, a vote for the continued success of the unregulated black market, a vote against revenue enhancement to the state, and a vote against common sense.”
Just last week, CT Legislators ended their term without consideration for the sports-betting bill. The next time it would be able to be revisited would be in the fall.
The Rest Of New England
According to LegalSportsReport.com Gov. Gina Raimondo included $23.5 million in revenue from legal sports betting at Twin River Casino and Tiverton Hotel Casino in a plan to fund state operations. The budget plan does not count on online sports wagering, but does open the door for future consideration. Of course, as the other states’ plans, it would require a victory for New Jersey’s case against the federal sports betting ban, PASPA.
VERMONT, NEW HAMPSHIRE & MAINE
All three states prohibit Nevada-style sports betting. Such laws would need to be repealed or amended before full-scale sports wagering would be permitted. These states do not have any publicly announced bills devoted to sports betting legalization. Both New Hampshire & Vermont would need the lottery to possible be the conduit to sports betting, since both do not have brick-and-mortar casinos (not that New Hampshire hasn’t tried, and tried, and tried……). Maine does have two casinos that could include sports betting, but state laws against it would have to be repealed.
AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION
The AGA has been a major proponent for legalized sports gambling. It sites the following stats to back the opinion that PASPA has failed:
- $58 Billion in illegal bets were placed on the NFL and college football games last season, with only $2 Billion bet legally
- Americans bet more than $15 billion on the Super Bowl and March Madness — 97% was bet illegally.
This is a quick overview of some very intricate wheeling and dealing going on. Legislators are now taking a break in most states, so news will slow. But I believe more a more intense movement will follow in the fall.