Sports betting is becoming almost normalized for much of the US, but why are some states dragging their feet?
For the sake of transparency, I’m going to use two examples of states that have made a mess out of legalizing and implementing sports betting. Both Massachusetts and Florida have passed legislation to allow sports betting; yet years after passing, both states have completely missed the mark on following-up and giving the citizens who voted what they desired.
Both Massachusetts and Florida are states I’ve called home, the former being my current residence. I’m going to focus on these two examples.
In 1992, Congress basically handed Nevada a monopoly on sports betting. While obviously illegal, underground betting was taking place across the nation. The federal government kept their head in the sand, and allowed this to continue. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that individual states had the right to allow betting on sports and other forms as well.
With the end of 2022 rapidly approaching, I’m going to break-down the failure of Massachusetts and Florida to swiftly implement betting, and making themselves look almost incompetent while not doing so.
Florida-man isn’t just a meme, it’s real.
The demographic of Florida has changed exponentially since 2020. The population has exploded in the last two years alone. The original bill was passed in Florida to allow sports betting in 2018. After passing a gambling referendum in 2021 to allow sports betting through the Seminole Hard Rock app starting in November of 2021, it was shut-down within a month.
There is currently no ability to bet on sports legally in the state of Florida. With a population closing in on 22 million people, and with many casinos now operating in the state; it’s mind-blowing that there has been no solution to this issue. Nearly 5 years after the voters of the state decided they wanted sports betting to be legalized, Florida continues to make a complete disaster of the situation.
Massachusetts makes strides, but implementation is slow.
On August 10, 2021 Governor Charlie Baker signed a sports betting bill into law. This made many residents of Massachusetts extremely excited.
While their neighbors to the north (New Hampshire) and to the south (Connecticut) have been allowed to bet for years, Massachusetts residents were forced to drive to NH to place online bets, or to Connecticut to visit casinos such as Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun to place bets.
While there are no verifiable statistics to back-up my claim, after spending many years in Mass, I’m confident in saying that Mass might be one of the greatest and most untapped markets for sports betting.
If you’ve ever spent any time in the state, especially in or around the city of Boston, you’ve met someone who “has a guy”. Sports betting in Boston is about as “normal” as it is in Vegas, except it’s been run for many decades underground. Bookies were and still are as easy to find as a Dunkin Donuts.
The lack of urgency to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts can easily be traced (mostly through local dismay), to the fact that residents believe that “Taxachusetts” couldn’t figure out a way to make the distribution of tax-money from betting distributed properly; or simply the fact that most politicians who dragged their feet on the issue had a family-member or close friend who ran an illegal-book, and wanted to keep their business alive and well.
Unlike Florida however, Massachusetts is targeting late-January to early-February as a target to open both in-person and online betting to residents of the state. With the newly-opened Encore Boston hotel and casino becoming a go-to destination, it will usher in a long-awaited way for people in the state to legally do what they’ve been doing for generations.
Ironically, just in-time to “fade the Pats”.
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