Governor on Legalized Sports Betting in Massachusetts: It's Only a Matter of Time

(WEEI) -- Governor Charlie Baker joined the Greg Hill Show Monday morning for “Breakfast with Baker” to discuss a number of topics. Among those was the future of legalizing sports gambling in Massachusetts.

“We actually filed legislation to create legalized sports betting in Massachusetts, we filed that back in January,” Baker said. “We filed that in large part because we already had some templates. The state of New Jersey was the first to go, and we basically borrowed their template as kind of our framework for the legislation that we filed, and added a couple things to it.

“And we now have states around us that have done this as well in the Northeast, so I mean this is going to be a thing I think pretty much everywhere, and our view was we should get on with the show.”

“I think the legislature held a hearing on that earlier this spring,” he added. “There weren’t a heck of a lot of people there testifying against it. Most of the folks who came to testify were raising sort of particular issues of that related primarily to their own interests.”

In terms of a timeline for when sports gambling could potentially become legal in Massachusetts, Baker shared it seems to be taking longer than he had originally hoped.

“I mean, it was my hope that we would get this done by the end of the summer so that it would be open and available here in Massachusetts for the football season in the fall. But I have a feeling it’s going to slide into the next calendar year,” he said. “I certainly hope we get this done by the end of… June of 2020, but I would like to have seen it done sooner to tell you the truth.”

Hill joked about wanting to bet the over/under for the Greg Hill Show, but noted that he’d need to go over state lines to do so, and would rather keep his money local. Although seemingly a joke, Baker was quick to note that’s one of the reasons for localizing sports gambling in Massachusetts.

“That is a really good point,” Baker said. “There’s several others in the Northeast that have done it, and I think after the Supreme Court decision, this is something that you’re probably going to see in most states.”

Currently, Rhode Island and New Hampshire are the only states in New England with some form of legalized sports gambling

The Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island became a place for legal sports betting on Nov. 26, 2018. In early 2019, the law was amended to also provide for mobile betting.

New Hampshire’s legislative body passed a bill to legalize sports betting on June 19, 2019. The new law put the New Hampshire Lottery Commission in charge of oversight, and both retail and mobile sports betting will be permitted, with the exception of New Hampshire’s in-state colleges.

Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have all had recent bills introduced, but have not been passed yet. Though as far as Massachusetts is concerned, according to Baker, it’s only a matter of time.