BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Sen. Eric Lesser won't put an artificial timeline on legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts—in his words, "It's ready when it's ready."
The state legislature is considering several bills that would make sports betting legal in the Commonwealth, including one filed by Gov. Charlie Baker.
Lesser, co-chair of the legislature's Economic Development Committee, told WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe he's aware of the huge amount of interest in the subject, but says lawmakers are moving slowly for a reason.
"Everywhere I go, I get asked about sports betting, and we certainly know with Patriots season there's even added excitement and interest around the issue," he said. "But we're gonna work in a way that ensures that whatever decision is made is thorough and considers all the elements."
Lesser said the committee is being thorough and deliberate, because there are a number of issues surrounding the legislation that still need to be addressed.
"Do you limit it to just professional sports, or do you allow college?" Lesser asked. "What should the tax rate be? Should it be online or just bricks and mortar? How do you take into account concerns about player integrity, making sure the game is protected? How do you ensure marketing is done correctly and not geared toward children?"
He acknowledges there's been a lot of pressure to get sports betting passed, since it's already legal in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire—and he's aware of comments from New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu encouraging Bay State residents to place their wagers in the Granite State, since Massachusetts is dragging its feet—but said he isn't bowing to that pressure.
"Our obligation, what we owe to the public, is that any change and any new law is well-reasoned, well thought out, and takes into consideration a lot of very important questions," he said. "We can't let artificial timelines, or frankly, comments from the Governor of New Hampshire, influence that."
WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports