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Sports wagering may be available in Massachusetts in time for Super Bowl 2023

A photograph taken at a Wynn sports betting facility in Nevada.
Jonathan Cutrer
Creative Commons / flickr.com / joncutrer
A photograph taken at a Wynn sports betting facility in Nevada.

Massachusetts Gaming Commissioners throw a 'Hail Mary' hoping to get sports betting launched before the 2023 Super Bowl. Gaming regulators have passed — what they consider to be — an aggressive schedule to get sports betting in place by early 2023.

Matt Murphy, a reporter with the State House News Service, says in-person wagering is planned for the Super Bowl in 2023 and online betting set up by March Madness.

Matt Murphy, State House News Service: The gaming regulators say it's an aggressive schedule, at least one that's as fast as they believe they can possibly move. But it's going to leave a lot of potential sports bettors wanting because basically regulators are now talking about missing the entire NFL football season. They believe that now they will be able to get in-(person) wagering up and operating at the state's casinos and the slots parlor by late January, which would be enough time for people to place bets on the Super Bowl. But the other popular option for a lot of gamblers, online mobile sites, sites like DraftKingsand other platforms that could come into the market where you can place bets on your phone, this would not be in place until March, hopefully regulators say, in time for the March Madness college basketball tournament, which is another big driver of sports betting, which in turn would drive revenue to the state.

One gambling website PlayMA.com, which operates in multiple states, tracking the gambling industry, says Massachusetts could be leaving as much as $5 million a month in tax revenue on the table by this long process of getting sports betting up and running, particularly during what is a very busy season, this stretch from the start of the football season through that March basketball tournament. So, it remains to be seen, but right now, that is the timeline that the Gaming Commission is looking at.

Carrie Healy, NEPM: Sticking with the economy, a recent analysis of state revenues by the independent Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center concludesthat the state could be sending too much money, $1.4 billion, back to taxpayers under that tax cap law. They say the way money will be returned is an 'equity issue'. How did the calculation they performed come out so differently from the one done by state auditor Suzanne Bump?

Well, auditor Suzanne Bump also flagged this as a potential point of concern, but she was tasked with looking at the numbers in front of her and how it stacked up against the revenue cap set by that 1986 law. She came out with the close to $3 billion that the Baker administration also identified.

But what MassBudget is talking about, is back after Congress and a Republican White House put a cap on state and local tax deductions, the state legislature came up with a workaround as some other states with high-cost real estate did in the Northeast and other parts of the country. And a lot of these deductions have yet to be claimed. This has factored into the state's annual monthly revenue reports, where there's also a caveat that this sort of pass-through tax deduction law is impacting and driving up some of the receipts that the state has seen.

And that's the concern here, that a lot of these deductions still could be claimed, and it would reduce that excess tax revenue and the state would have to fund those refunds at a later point in time, long after the checks have been mailed out to taxpayers.

The Supreme Court tomorrow is going to hear a lot of talk about pigs in California. The court considers a case challenging that state's law requiring breeding pigs to have space to get up and move around. A similar law in Massachusetts is on hold. It's awaiting a decision based upon how that California case goes. What is the background here?

Yeah, this is a big case with major implications for Massachusetts and other states, even though it's centered around a California law. But that California law is a lot like the ballot law that passed in 2016 here in Massachusetts that was designed to prevent cruelty to animals. And basically, what it did was set limits on cage space for both egg laying hens as well as veal calves, pigs and other animals to make sure that they had certain amounts of space in their cages, how they were confined to turn around, to sit, to lie down so they weren't cooped up on top of each other.

A couple of years ago, the state amended the ballot law to adjust to new ways that egg laying hen cages were being designed in vertical formats versus horizontal. And in that law, they also delayed the implementation of the cage standards for pigs.

That was further delayed this summer when the attorney general and the Department of Agriculture agreed to put a halt on the regulations and enforcement of these cage standards until they see what happens at the Supreme Court with this California law, which is basically centered around a lawsuit brought by the pork industry, questioning whether or not California and by extension Massachusetts and other states has the right to put restrictions on what is a very much an interstate commerce question here, where these pigs and other animals used for food and other products are raised in other parts of the country. They're confined, they're moved around, they're shipped, they're processed, and even if a pig was raised in another state, it wouldn't be able to be sold in California or in Massachusetts, and that's the question the court will decide, and will have a big ramification for the enforcement of the ballot law here in Massachusetts.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.