If Massachusetts legalizes sports betting and allows wagers on college contests, it will lead to “unnecessary and unacceptable risks to student athletes, their campus peers, and the integrity and culture of colleges and universities in the Commonwealth,” the presidents and athletic directors of the eight Massachusetts colleges and universities that have Division I sports programs told legislative leaders this week.
The schools made their thoughts known in a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka and the six legislators who have been negotiating a compromise economic development bill since late July. House lawmakers voted to include legal sports betting, including on college games, in its economic development bill but the Senate did not authorize any betting.
“We recognize that during the current difficult economic climate, the Legislature desires to develop new sources of revenue, including sports wagering. But like other states, Massachusetts can gain those benefits without legalizing college sports betting,” officials from Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, The College of the Holy Cross, Merrimack College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Lowell wrote in a letter. “Such a limitation is necessary to safeguard the longstanding distinctive role and contribution of student-athletes as well as to preserve the integrity of intercollegiate athletics in the Commonwealth.”
Massachusetts lawmakers have been considering whether to legalize sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 ruled that the nearly-nationwide prohibition on sports wagering was unconstitutional and gave states the ability to legalize the activity. Eighteen states