Online wagering in Massachusetts, Kentucky legislative progress

Joe Berra

Sports Hub is here with this week’s sports betting industry news. We look at online wagering in Massachusetts opening up to bettors in the state and other items.

Key Points

– Online wagering in Massachusetts will affect markets in other New England states.

– States like Kentucky and Georgia are still trying to legalize sports betting.

Online Wagering in Massachusetts Is Live, Not in Georgia

A lot of news is circulating in the sports betting industry this week. States like Georgia want to keep their sports betting hopes alive. Other states like Massachusetts already added online sports betting to their menu.

The coalition of SEC states hasn’t been too optimistic about adding sports betting to its arsenal. Numerous states failed during the previous legislative session. The same is happening in the Peach State. Several bills failed to move to the next chamber on crossover day.

House Speaker Jon Burns stated that legislators may change or add language to the bill to make it more appealing. The Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee replaced the language that was stated in HB 237, which revolved around designating an official soap box derby.

Bill Language Being Discussed

The writing in the bill would legalize sports betting in the state, and it passed through the committee with an 8-1 vote. Initially, the committee wanted to keep the language in the bill, but  Rep. Leesa Hagan wanted her language in the measure to be taken out.

Under HB 237, the Georgia Lottery would regulate sports betting, and any tax revenue would be allocated toward education funds in the Peach State. The adjusted gross revenue would be set at 22 percent.

HB 237 is appealing to the advocates in the state because it wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment with the legislative session set to end on March 29th. The bill needs to be approved by both legislative chambers, and a constitutional amendment would lengthen the process and require a referendum in the next election cycle.

Sen. Mike Duggan opposes the sports betting initiative and believes it will not pass a floor vote. Both Sen. Mike Duggan and Rep. Leesa Hagan want nothing to do with the committee this year.

Online Sports Wagering is Finally A Part of Massachusetts 

Over 400,000 new accounts were made in the Bay State once the jurisdiction launched online wagering in Massachusetts on March 10th. The state launched its mobile operation right before the start of March Madness. The NCAA tournament is the most wagered non-single game event in the nation.

Massachusetts entering the market could potentially shift the landscape of sports betting in the region. That’s because companies like DraftKings are based in Boston. Six sportsbook operators were ready to take bets in the state and were likely to make a strong debut in the industry.

The state will most likely match the output set out by Ohio in its debut. Projections in Massachusetts are set to bring in $4 billion for the remainder of the year. Even though most of the state’s neighbors have been members of the industry for much longer, professional sports organizations will certainly draw in fans and bettors on a regular basis. 

The Rest of New England

Massachusetts’ new market may be more attractive due to the lack of competition in those states. A few estimates suggest that the market could take 30 percent or more of the monthly handle volume from states like Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

On the other hand, Maine will most likely not launch until 2024 as Maine Gaming Control Unit Executive Director Milton Champion continues to take notes from other markets that have already launched. Despite gaining some momentum, Vermont hasn’t launched yet as well.

Retail online betting in Massachusetts brought in $25.7 million in wagers for February. Brick-and-mortar sports betting will probably make up only a fraction of what the online sports betting operation will bring in moving forward.

Kentucky Makes Notable Progress During Its Legislative Session

A bill that would legalize sports betting in the Bluegrass State took a huge step forward. The  Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee advanced HB 551 to the chamber’s floor by a vote of 9-1.

The House chamber then approved the bill by a vote of 63-34. There is a lot of pressure on Kentucky as the state is bordered by Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. All of these jurisdictions offer legalized sports betting.

For online bets, adjusted gross revenue would be taxed at 14.25 percent. In-person wagers would be taxed at 9.25 percent. Regulating sports betting in Kentucky would be the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

According to the bill, nine licensed horse racing facilities will be permitted to offer both mobile and brick-and-mortar sports wagering. The license would cost $500,000, while renewing the license would cost $50,000 annually. 

Each of the locations could extend partnerships with three sportsbook operators. As a result, 27 online bookmakers will be available to the public all year round. There has been some push-back on this issue.

The primary focus of those opposed is problem gambling. They believe that expanding the market will create too many compulsive gamblers.

Indiana’s Sports Betting Start to Decline After Ohio’s Launch 

Ohio’s universal launch has had a cannibalism effect on neighboring markets, especially the Hoosier State. Looking at February’s year-over-year numbers, the handle for 2023 noted a decline of 13 percent. It is what may happen with smaller New England states now that online wagering in Massachusetts is available.

Sportsbooks in Indiana handled just $356 million in wagers compared to $409 million in the previous year. The sportsbooks held 7.7 percent last month, and the win rate was 8.5 percent to start the new year. This year, Indiana has received $6.24 million in sports betting revenue.

The Buckeye State burst onto the scene by accepting $1.1 billion in its inaugural month in the industry. Indiana’s handle took a massive hit as the January handle was 14 percent away from the all-time high of $500 million, set in January 2022. Ohio is projected to take five to 10 percent of Indiana’s business moving forward.

About the Author
Joe Berra
Joe Berra
Sports Writer
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Joe takes care of the bits and pieces that sometimes slip through the cracks of the sports world. Efficiency and consistency is what makes different. JB helps keep Sports Hub’s content fresh and exciting, managing its many authors. From the New York area, Joe knew he had a knack for sports betting when his uncle was always asking him which side he was on as a young boy. His meticulous approach to the numbers formed his career path as a professional handicapper. Joe is sometimes called Jimmy Bagpipes, JB or Mr. B.