Mass. House Speaker DeLeo: Sports Betting Legislation Unlikely in 2018

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo intends to take time before taking up a bill on sports betting, according to the State House News Service.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that a federal ban on sports betting was unconstitutional, sending the issue to state lawmakers. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the Bay State should consider legislation, but he added then that more "homework" needed to be done on the issue.

DeLeo, who had previously alluded to "major questions" that needed to be addressed before taking action, said Wednesday that it would be "difficult" to see a bill being taken up with just two months left on the formal lawmaking calendar.

"I think there are so many questions that have to be answered and I think that right now for us to be able to expect to do this within the last two months of the session — I'm not saying we're not going to talk about it, we're going [to] continue to try to come to some type of an answer, yes or no, but what I'm saying is I think it would be very, very difficult," DeLeo said, according to the State House News Service.

Senate President Harriette Chandler, a Worcester Democrat, agreed last week that the issue should be considered "thoughtfully and carefully."

Boston-based DraftKings said last week it had been preparing in advance of the Supreme Court ruling to launch a sports betting platform and apply for operating licenses in states that move toward legalization.

"It will be a totally interactive experience for the sports fan and the viewership will change from passive, sitting on your couch, to actively engaging and watching while also playing games, betting, chatting with friends and all sorts of things," said Jason Robins, chief executive of DraftKings, during a conference call with reporters.

The wider legalization of sports betting could lead to the company creating more jobs in Boston, he added.

One consideration for Massachusetts, Baker said, would be to gauge the impact of legalized sports betting on the state's first two resort casinos, one in Springfield and the other in Everett, that are scheduled to open in the coming months.

Each of the four major North American sports leagues responded to the ruling.

"The NFL's long-standing and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of our game remains absolute," the league said in a statement. "Congress has long-recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events. Given that history, we intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting. We also will work closely with our clubs to ensure that any state efforts that move forward in the meantime protect our fans and the integrity of our game."

"We remain in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it," the NBA said in a statement of its own.

The MLB said it "will continue to seek the proper protections for our sport, in partnership with other professional sports. Our most important priority is protecting the integrity of our games."

"We will review our current practices and policies and decide whether adjustments are needed," the NHL added.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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