It was a close call for sports betting legalization in Massachusetts, as lawmakers made it down to the wire before deciding to approve legislation regarding the gambling activity. Lawmakers were able to come to an agreement to authorize sports betting with some college wagering included. The main sticking point was college betting, with some wanting to allow it and others not. In the end, a good compromise was made and soon, sports fans won’t have to drive across state lines to place a bet.

Back and Forth on College Wagering

For quite some time, the Senate and House have been divided on the subject of college betting. Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano both came out publicly discussing the matter, and the bill was being watched closely as to what type of outcome would come about.

In the end, officials decided to allow sports betting on colleges and universities that are based outside of Massachusetts. An exception was made for any school that makes it to March Madness. If they do, bets can be placed on the schools at that time.

The Senate wanted to pass legislation with no college betting, while the House was open to full wagering on school events. Instead of going fully one way or the other, a compromise was made. Spilka spoke publicly as debates continued, asking Mariano to not be all-or-nothing when it came to college betting and considering rethinking his position.

It must have worked because lawmakers could figure out a way to make everyone happy, at least for now. The bill should head to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk soon, and he is expected to sign it.

Gaining Ground Against Neighboring Competition

For a few years now, Massachusetts has been losing revenues to neighboring states that legalized sports betting soon after the dissolution of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York are just a few nearby states offering sports betting services.

Players who are interested in posting a wager can cross state lines and bet online or visit a local casino to wager. This is inconvenient for players and a big revenue hit for Massachusetts. Once services are live in the state, players will no longer have to travel to place a bet. The sports betting industry is expected to take off from the minute services are launched.

MGM Springfield and the Encore are reportedly ready to offer services as soon as the green light is given. It will be interesting to see how long it takes regulators to prep the industry and set up licensing so operators can get in on the action.