Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey showed support for legalizing sports betting in the Bay State on Thursday afternoon. The frontrunner in the Democratic primary race for governor said “it is the way now.”
Healey shared her stance in an interview on GBH News’ Boston Public Radio, reports Mass Live, although she offered little insights in regards to which provisions of a sports betting bill she would support.
“Sports betting, it is the way now,” Healey said during the interview. “I am confident that the Legislature will work something out.” This marks a notable change in mind from her past opposition to gambling, a topic she addressed during the Boston Public Radio talk, stating she has always worried about addiction and exploitation.
Massachusetts Capitol House
“I was concerned about protecting consumers, so to speak,” Healey told GBH. “It’s here, and my office as a team investigates issues in our gaming establishments. And I have an appointment to the (Massachusetts) Gaming Commission, so it is here.”
In addition to Healey’s support, a sports gaming legalization also has backing from at least 60% of state senators, according to a poll conducted by State House News Service. The survey, conducted among all legislators, received responses from all but 12: of those who responded, 24 (60% of the total chamber) said they would back the plan.
Meanwhile, eight senators gave noncommittal or undecided responses, most importantly Senate President Karen Spilka. None explicitly spoke out against legalization, further showed the poll. Senators from districts bordering states where the market is already legal expressed concern that millions in bets were being lost to neighbors.
“This continues to result in a significant revenue loss for Massachusetts and gain for New Hampshire,” said Democratic State Sen. Diana DiZoglio of Methuen, according to Boston Herald. She further said people from her district regularly cross into New Hampshire to wager.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has publicly supported legalization
Additionally, many of the most progressive senators, and gubernatorial candidate Sonia Chang-Díaz, either declined to comment or said they wanted to see the specifics of the bill before deciding. Díaz expressed concerns about the equity of the industry. Other senators showed tentative support, but expressed concerns that there are yet many issues to be resolved before a passage.
Sports betting legalization has also been publicly supported by Gov. Charlie Baker. However, a House-approved bill, passed 156-3 last July, remains lodged in the Senate Ways and Means Committee since last summer, despite the general support the poll gauged.
“For people in Massachusetts – literally many do – to just drive over the border, to be able to participate in something that is another form of entertainment, I think is unfortunate,” Baker said in March, lamenting the lack of a passage.