House Speaker Ron Mariano and Sen. Walter Timilty each pointed Wednesday to Senate President Karen Spilka when asked what explains the holdup of legislation to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts.

While the House has voted to authorize sports betting in each of the last two years, the topic has not emerged, at least publicly, in the Senate for discussion or debate. Mariano said he is willing to negotiate with the Senate on the details of a sports betting bill, but suggested that Spilka and Senate leadership is being stubborn and is not as willing to engage.

“It’s extremely frustrating, the amount of money we’re leaving on the table by just this stubborn reluctance to take the bill up,” the speaker said on Bloomberg Baystate Business on Wednesday afternoon. “We have, I think, a good bill. Obviously, I’m willing to negotiate. But it takes two people to negotiate.”

Spilka, who opposed a 2010 casino law before supporting a different version in 2011, said a year ago that she wanted to see “what kind of bill we end up with” before staking out a position on the topic. Since the House passed its bill nearly unanimously, she has regularly suggested that there may not be a majority of senators in favor of legal wagering and that the Senate may not have the bandwidth to tackle it this session. In January, she said that “some [senators] want to do it, some are uncertain they want to do it.”

Timilty, who said he supports legalizing the activity and is asked about it constantly by constituents, told Bloomberg that he hopes the Senate will tackle the issue this year. He said it was an “excellent question” and then joked that his time was running short when he was asked by co-host Kim Carrigan who is standing in the way of sports betting in the Senate.

“You’ll get the best answer I have … I’m not sure if it’s an excellent one. Of course, as is the case with the House of Representatives, in the Senate it’s up to the Senate president to bring legislation to the floor for a vote,” the Milton Democrat said. “And hopefully the Senate president will bring it up for a vote this current year.”

Spilka’s office did not respond Thursday to a News Service request for a response.

(Copyright (c) 2023 State House News Service.

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