Massachusetts sports betting support continues growing in the commonwealth. The latest government official to attach their name to the gaming expansion effort is Attorney General Maura Healey.
Healey issuing her support is most certainly a surprise. The Democrat was behind a failed effort in 2014 to overturn Massachusetts’ Expanded Gaming Act. The 2011 law legalized as many as four commercial casinos in the state.
Now, Healey is taking a different approach to gambling. She says sports betting is already happening inside the state through unlawful channels, while many other Massachusetts residents are traveling to nearby states where such gambling is permitted.
Sports betting, it’s the way now. It’s here,” Healey said on Boston Public Radio this week. “I’m confident the Legislature will work something out.”
Massachusetts is lagging behind most of its neighboring states in moving to legalize sports betting.
Such gambling is legal and operational in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Each of those four states allows online wagering, meaning a resident from Massachusetts can drive into one of those states, open up their phone, and place a legal bet.
Healey says her opposition to casinos back in 2014 was due to consumer protection concerns. She explained this week that she was worried regarding potential addiction increases as a result of casinos.
The Massachusetts attorney general says the state has since appropriately implemented protections to combat such negative societal tolls. Along with her office being involved in appointing the commissioners who make up the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Healey says her investigations division routinely probes issues that arise in the three gaming establishments currently operating.
Healey changing her stance on sports betting coincides with her campaign to win the state’s highest office. Healey declared her candidacy for the Massachusetts 2022 gubernatorial election in January. Legalizing sports betting is considered a widely backed issue among voters on both sides of the political aisle.
Like Healey, state Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), who is also running for governor, supports legalizing sports betting. Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl, a former state representative who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, also supports sports betting being authorized.
Current Gov. Charlie Baker (R), who is opting not to see a second term, has additionally said he would sign a sports betting bill that reaches his desk.
As for the 2022 gubernatorial outcome, Healey is the heavy betting favorite. On the political betting exchange PredictIt, bettors give Healey a 91% chance of succeeding Baker.
The State House News Service recently tallied more than enough support among state Senators to pass a sports betting bill. So, why the holdup?
The Massachusetts House passed House Bill 3933 last July. The legislation has sat since with the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
State Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) has been criticized for stalling the measure, but he has repeatedly assured such critics that work on the legislation is being done behind the scenes. Rodrigues says HB3933 will be voted on in the committee and advanced only when it is ready and such support is realized.
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