BOSTON (SHNS) – As House and Senate negotiators continue to try to resolve their differences around sports betting, the Mass. Gaming Commission has told the conference committee that it is available as a resource and even shared a draft version of an unreleased commission study of sports betting frameworks, revenues and social outcomes.
Six lawmakers have been talking since early June to try to find a compromise between the sports betting bill the House passed 156-3 and the version that the Senate passed without any recorded opposition. Both versions would legalize sports betting and put the Gaming Commission in charge of overseeing the activity and industry.
Gaming regulators have been preparing for that possibility and its research arm recently finished an ad hoc report examining the potential impacts of sports wagering in Massachusetts. That report is complete but is going through the commission’s “rigorous external review process” and won’t be ready for public release until late August or early September, an official said.
But the commission recently shared that draft with the sports betting conference committee as a resource given “the timeliness of the issue.” “We have communicated with the members of the conference committee and provided them an advanced copy in draft form so they would have the information and they would be able to utilize that,” Gaming Commission Executive Director Karen Wells said at the commission’s Tuesday meeting. “And we’ve also indicated our team is available for any questions or anything that they would need with respect to this.”
One of the more significant issues the conference committee is trying to iron out is how to treat wagering on collegiate athletics. The House sports betting bill would allow bets on college sports, but the Senate’s would not. Negotiators could be working towards a compromise that would allow bets on college contests only if they do not involve in-state colleges or collegiate games played within Massachusetts’ borders, which would address concerns the Senate president has highlighted from college presidents and athletic directors while allowing betting on the events the House speaker has said are key, like college football bowl games and March Madness.
That type of compromise “has been struck in nearly every state which has sought to impose restrictions on collegiate sports betting,” Daniel Wallach, the co-founder of the University of New Hampshire School of Law’s Sports Wagering and Integrity Program, said last month as he surveyed the potential outcomes in Massachusetts