Baker officially makes sports betting Mass. law

The exact date that people will be able to make their wagers has yet to be determined.

Encore Boston Harbor in Everett is one of three casinos in the state, and all three will be able to have sportsbooks. Jonathan Wiggs /Boston Globe

Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts Wednesday, officially making it the 36th state to do so. 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states have the authority to legalize sports betting more than four years ago, and Baker introduced a bill that would legalize the activity in 2019. But lawmakers took a measured approach, and it wasn’t until the final hours of the Legislature’s formal session last week that this bill passed. 

A key wrinkle was the issue of betting on college sports. Some college presidents in Massachusetts had voiced their opposition to college betting, and the version of the sports betting bill that passed the Senate did not allow people to wager on college athletics. At first, the House voted to allow college betting entirely. The NCAA’s annual March Madness basketball tournament is a major way to increase revenue from betting. In the end, college betting was added to the bill, but betting on in-state colleges is not allowed unless the school is playing in a national tournament. 


The exact date that residents can start betting on their favorite teams has not yet been determined, and it could take several months for the Gaming Commission to nail down the specifics of the sports betting rollout. State Senator Michael Rodrigues said he is hopeful that people will be able to place bets by the time the NFL season begins next month, according to The Boston Globe.

The Gaming Commission has already drafted a list of about 225 regulations that would need to apply to sports betting, according to WBUR. The commission is looking to schedule a roundtable discussion with licensees Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino soon.

Of the 36 states that have legalized sports betting, 30 have operations up and running, in addition to Washington, D.C. This includes all of Massachusetts’ neighbors except for Vermont. 

Officials estimate that sports betting could generate $35 million or more for the state, according to the Globe

Baker signed a number of other bills Wednesday. This includes legislation designed to expand access to mental health care services, rework the state’s gun laws, and an $11.4 billion transportation and infrastructure bond bill. Some parts of this bill were vetoed or sent back to lawmakers.


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