In Massachusetts, legislation allowing for the opening of Wynn Casinos in Everett, as well as an MGM resort casino in Springfield, sets an important precedent for the legality of sports betting in the Commonwealth. Massachusetts has had a very progressive attitude towards sports betting since the passage of the 2011 Expanded Gaming Act, with regards to horse racing, casinos, sports betting and the support of daily fantasy sports.
Recently, the Massachusetts gaming commission released a new White Paper about the future prospects of sports betting in the state. This document breaks down the history of legislation as well and analyzes the momentum of legislation in other states. It also discusses the Wire Act, passed in 1961, which prevents bookmakers from taking bets via phone or Internet to this day.
The document goes further by identifying potential licensees and operators in the state, setting up the framework if the Massachusetts Gaming Commission tackles the issue of sports betting in the future.
MA Sports Betting | Supreme Court Case
The key case to watch for sports betting is Murphy vs. NCAA (formerly Christie vs. NCAA), under which New Jersey (through a suit filed by Governor Chris Christie) seeks to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The suit argues that the 1992 law violates the 10th amendment by forcing states to carry out federal dictates in restricting sports betting within their borders.
The court is expected to rule by late June and states such as Pennsylvania and Connecticut have already begun to plan for a regulated sports betting market should the law be repealed.
Officials in Massachusetts would still have to approve legislation before fans could legally bet on sporting events with bookmakers or at casinos.
Where could I place sports bets if it was legal in MA?
Each individual proprietor will have to consider the profitability of including sports betting at its facility. MGM declined to comment on the ongoing legislation to legalize sports betting and Robert DeSalvio, president of Wynn Boston Harbor, told the Boston Globe that Wynn Resorts is “watching the court case with great interest.”
How will the Supreme Court ruling have an impact on MA and other states?
If SCOTUS finds that PASPA unconstitutional, it opens the door for any state to legalize and regulate sports betting.
Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Mississippi, West Virginia, and New York have passed laws that would legalize sports betting in the event of a change to PASPA, via the courts or Congress. Massachusetts could follow if New Jersey wins.
What happens to Massachusetts sports betting if New Jersey loses?
If Congress does not repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act it will be very difficult for individual states to legalize sports betting. Should New Jersey lose its appeal to the supreme court, Massachusetts will likely stick with its current stance on sports betting while continuing to sport daily fantasy sports as a “game of skill.”