- Massachusetts is the likeliest state in New England to legalize, having a public hearing set at the end of May.
- If both New Hampshire chambers can find a way to agree on regulations, there is a chance they legalize in 2019.
- It would likely require a special session being called to legalize sports betting in Connecticut.
BOSTON – The northeast region as a whole was quick to see states like New Jersey and Delaware exceed financial expectations for legal sports betting, but the same hasn’t been said for New England.
Though revenue numbers have been lower than projected, Rhode Island remains the only state in New England to offer legal sports betting.
The state has collected just under $1 million in tax contributions encompassing their late launch month of November through March.
However, this nominal amount is the only money that New England states have seen sent to the state governments, as the process has taken longer than anticipated to create a sports betting industry. With legislative sessions preparing to end sooner than later, this may continue through all of 2019. Here is the outlook for the rest of the New England states in regards to legal sports betting:
This legislature meets throughout the year, so ruling out law changes for 2019 may be an oversite. With a two-day public hearing set for the end of the month, it is more likely Massachusetts won’t be able to launch an industry before football season begins.
However, legislators seem to be on board with not rushing into things.
“We’re going to be diligent and thorough and take our time. The state has a relatively healthy budget this year, so we want to make sure that we have the best and most thought-out proposal,” said Senator Eric Lesser (D- Longmeadow).
This year’s state budget failed to include funds from sports wagering. But with the result of Rhode Island’s sportsbooks, Massachusetts legislators are using that as an example.
“I do think we have an advantage, having waited the year to see how other states have been successful and not so successful,” said Senator Brendan Crighton (D- Lynn). “The world’s not going to end if we don’t get it ready by football season. We want to get this right.”
After the state lottery filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice for their Wire Act interpretation, New Hampshire legislators have opened up legalization talks more.
House Bill 480 is the bill of the hour, as legislators have one month left to send this bill to Governor Chris Sununu’s desk.
Allowing 18-year-olds to wager, HB 480 received an “ought to pass with amendment” title on Wednesday in the Senate. However, multiple amendments have modified this bill where both chambers cannot seem to come to an agreement.
The state lottery would oversee the industry, who would prohibit collegiate sports betting on universities or sporting events located in New Hampshire.
Senator Lou D’Allesandro has been at the forefront of casino and sports betting legalization for a few years and it has consistently been his goal to make it happen.
“I think it has become so pervasive that it can’t be denied anymore. But I’m not kidding myself. We’ve got our work cut out for us,” said D’Allesandro.
Governor Ned Lamont has been on record stating he wants sports betting in the state.
Technically, in 2017 the state approved a measure authorizing sports betting. However, problems have arisen regarding exclusivity rights between the tribal casinos and the variety of state-run and commercial gambling venues.
The tribal casinos have threatened to discontinue their slot machine revenue contribution should the legislators move forward with a plan removing their exclusivity.
Roughly two more weeks are left in the Connecticut legislative session, as the lawmakers adjourn on June 5.
With the governor so heavily invested in this industry, the thought of a special session has floated around the legislators’ minds. But Lamont has also been on record stating he doesn’t believe sports betting will take off in Connecticut this year.
Only having a concept bill left to discuss, Maine legislators dropped every sports betting bill except one.
Even still, the bill lays out no plans for a legal sports betting market. It details a title and doesn’t include any regulations, licensing requirements, or financial impacts.
“My hope is that we will just collect that money and put it into the general fund and we’ll be able to use it to provide some good services to the state,” said Representative Scott Strom (R- Pittsfield).
Strom co-sponsored the measure that remained on the docket. A hearing will be held on the morning of Monday, May 20 to discuss the framework of the measure.
But with a month left (June 19) in the state’s legislative session, serious work and effort needs to be put into this proposal to have it happen this year.
Coming in last, Vermont’s legislature ends this weekend. The state has yet to finalize and approve their budget, so legislators definitely have bigger fish to fry.
Double-digit committees were still holding meetings, which isn’t a good indication that bills are moving forward in the state.
A scope of what legal sports betting in Vermont could look like next year came from HB 484.
Though it will not be put into effect, it set licensing fees at $100,000 and permits 21-years-olds to bet on professional and collegiate sporting events.
Revenue would be collected on a sliding scale and gambling facilities who wished to have a sportsbook lounge would need to purchase an additional license, set at $5,000.
News tags: Connecticut | Maine | Massachusetts | New England | New Hampshire | Rhode Island | Vermont
Michael began writing as an NBA content writer and has spent time scouting college basketball for Florida State University under Leonard Hamilton and the University of Alabama under Anthony Grant. A graduate of both schools, he covers topics focused on legal sports betting, betting odds, and casino reviews. Michael likes to golf, play basketball, hike, and kayak when not glued to the TV watching NBA games.