Massachusetts sports betting could be on the way, as lawmakers work to get a bill passed before the end of the month. However, one bit of news from a top legislator backing the efforts revealed something potentially undesirable for many of the state’s sports bettors: Massachusetts sports betting could include a ban on college sports wagering.
College sports betting is just one of the major issues slowing down the bill’s potential passage. But, it’s definitely one that will be the most noticeable for the majority of bettors.
Full College Ban Or Just Props?
How exactly Massachusetts sports betting will proceed with regards to college sports remains unclear. However, one thing does appear all but certain: some kind of restriction will be in place. The question will be whether we’ll see a full ban with zero allowed bets on college sports, or if merely props will be absent from the board.
States like Iowa and Arizona have had success with the latter framework. Still, it ultimately costs revenue and encourages some bettors to migrate their business to illegal offshore sportsbooks.
Completely disallowing college sports betting would be potentially detrimental and further exacerbate the latter issue. Even if the bettors didn’t go offshore, they’ll continue to head across various state borders and send their dollars to those states’ coffers. Betting on college football and college basketball remains immensely popular and only grows every year.
State Rep. Jerry Parisella, the lead legislator pushing the sports betting bill, recognizes the dangers.
“My philosophy is you want everything out in the open,” he said. “And by giving people the ability to bet legally on college, you can see if there’s been any kind of irregularities in the bets.
“People are betting a thousand dollars a week on Boston College, and suddenly it’s a million dollars, you can say hey maybe there’s something going on here that we need to look at. There were a couple sports shaving scandals with Boston College back in the day. So this kind of stuff could be able to capture that by having it out in the open.”
Read here about the referenced scandal, which graced the small screen for an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary.
Of course, all of this speculation comes with the caveat that Massachusetts sports betting gains passage in the first place.
Massachusetts Sports Betting Working Against July 31 Clock
More hurdles than college sports betting framework remain before legal sports betting even becomes a thing in Massachusetts.
For one thing, parties continue to haggle over the tax rate. A number as high as 35% has been floated for Massachusetts mobile sports betting. Considering operators have fought hard of late against a 51% rate in New York, they figure to be less than enthusiastic about a high tax rate in a state with considerably lower population and revenue potential.
Then, there’s a thorny proposal from the Senate that would ban sports betting ads during events. Some have called such a ban unconstitutional. Stakeholders would need to sort that issue out.
And all of this must be ironed out by July 31. The session ends on that date. Until then, the clock ticks and the pressure is on. And Massachusetts sports bettors should monitor the developments, particularly around the proposed college betting ban.
“We’re trying to do what we can to make it happen,” Parisella said of the bill’s fight for passage.