Last summer, House Speaker Ron Mariano said excluding college sports from a sports betting legalization bill “probably would be” a dealbreaker.
On Monday, he declined an opportunity to repeat that assertion. “I don’t know, we’ll see how it plays out,” Mariano told reporters. “Negotiations have just begun. So we have a long way to go. I’m not going to prejudge a negotiation.”
During a Bloomberg interview last July, Mariano said he expected the House and Senate would need to “trade” in sports betting negotiations, but said the state revenues from betting would drop from $60 million to as low as $25 million if wagering on college sports is not included, the policy approach taken by the Senate.
Mariano said last summer that $960 million was bet on sports during the first quarter of 2021, and “most of that” was on college games, with more money wagered on college basketball games than pro games.
“If we are going to get a bill done, we both have to move,” Mariano said last summer.
The July 31 end of formal sessions could provide that impetus to move.
The alternative is for the Legislature to break for election season without a deal even though both branches are on record in favor of legalization.
Senate President Karen Spilka said Monday that House-Senate negotiators last week struck an agreement on early and mail-in voting reforms in part because the approach of election season forced compromise.
“We were disappointed that it did not contain same-day registration or movement towards that goal, but we resolved it because we knew we needed to get it done because voting is so important,” she said. “It’s the foundation of our democracy so we know we needed we needed to resolve it.”
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