Massachusetts sports bettors won’t have the opportunity to bet on Boston College or any of the other college football teams in the state when the season begins later this month.
The reason: as part of the pre-dawn extended-Legislative-session deal-making that finally legalized sports betting in Massachusetts, wagering on in-state college teams is not allowed.
With a notable caveat: wagering, according to language in the compromise bill, will be allowed if an in-state team is participating in a “collegiate tournament.” The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, one of the most lucrative and anticipated betting events of the year … well, it’s right there in the name.
The Beanpot, an annual college hockey throwdown at TD Garden featuring Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, and Northeastern figures to be allowable and of great interest to the locals.
College Sports Betting a Sticking Point In Massachusetts
Massachusetts sports betting law is similar to that in other states in that it has unique caveats.
Whether betting on in-state college teams would be allowed has been central in debates regarding legalization in several states, and Mass was no exception. And whether betting on the old alma mater is allowed has often coalesced around how relevant or popular college sports are in relation to professional franchises there.
Fifteen states allow bets on college games and player props. Five allow wagers on games but no props, while nine allow no wagering on in-state schools at all. Oregon has banned all college betting.
State-by-State Rules on College Sports Betting
New Yorkers Can’t Bet On In-State Teams
New Yorkers can legally place mobile sports bets on college sports. It just can’t be on an in-state team.
That’s the same whether wagering from your mobile device, or at a retail sportsbook at one of the casinos.
The sports betting markets of New York and New Jersey are massive and successful without allowing for it. Bettors there haven’t demanded the ability to bet on Syracuse or Seton Hall, respectively, like they would have the Yankees or Giants.
Wagering is allowed on college games played within New York state. The prerequisite is that the game must involve two out-of-state programs.
Wagering On In-State Teams Remains Illegal In New Jersey
New Jersey voters had a chance in 2021 to amend the state constitution and allow for wagering on in-state college teams and events held within state lines. The measure failed with around 57% voting against, a decisive but quirky result in a state awash in gambling options.
State taxing authorities figure to miss out on a big payday when the Prudential Center and Seton Hall host the 2025 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament East Regional — unless sports betting proponents launch another bid for a ballot referendum.
New Jersey doesn’t even permit betting on college games taking place inside the state’s borders, even if the game features out-of-state programs. That point was driven home emphatically when bettors realized they couldn’t bet on the Army vs. Navy football game at the Meadowlands in 2021.
The ban on in-state contests was implemented within the state’s initial gambling rules “by lawmakers who voiced concern about the perception of the integrity of the games,” per the Associated Press reported.
Betting Rules, Registration Process Have Changed In Illinois
Betting on in-state schools is legal in Illinois, but limited. Wagering on in-state schools is allowed at retail sports. Online is forbidden. Props and in-game bets remain unavailable in any form.
The provision for limited in-state wagering on the state’s college programs is set to expire on July 1, 2023, unless lawmakers approve an extension.
State Rep. Mike Zalewski told the Chicago Tribune the deadline provides the opportunity to see if concerns raised by the athletic directors at the state’s 13 Division I institutions come to fruition.
Illinois AD Josh Whitman expressed those concerns at a committee hearing in April 2021, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“We have a unique situation here where our student-athletes are more susceptible to undue influence than would be, say, professional athletes,” Whitman said. “They’re living amongst the people who are betting on them, which is strange, to know that somebody who lives in the dorm room right next door might be betting on them.”
Whitman said betting on the state’s teams could also lead to “threatening” comments on social media while explaining why athletic directors opposed in-state betting.
Pennsylvania, Indiana Welcome Betting On In-State Teams
Pennsylvania and Indiana, two states with massive college sports traditions, allow for mobile sports betting on any college game. Pennsylvania prohibits prop bets on the performances of individual players, however, and in Indiana, player prop bets are only available prior to the start of a game. In-play player props are not available.
Permissible Bets Vary Between States
While Indiana allows player prop bets until the game starts, player props at any time are prohibited in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
Connecticut permits futures betting on in-state college teams only when the team is playing in an intercollegiate tournament. Wagers on individual games are not allowed.
This explanation is from the state’s website: “An intercollegiate tournament means an intercollegiate e-sports, sporting or athletic event involving four or more teams that involves one or more Connecticut teams, and the wager on the tournament is based on the outcome of all games within the tournament.”
Mark Ashenfelter contributed to this story.