MA sports betting bill moves forward but with a long way to go
The Massachusetts Senate has recently given votes to legalize sports betting in MA. This has been a long-standing demand of sportsbooks, economists, and other authorities.
Nonetheless, legislators must reconcile the numerous discrepancies between the Senate’s bill and the one put- forward by the House last year. This is essential before the bill can be put-forth on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.
However, roughly 7 million citizens continues to drudge and grub toward the likely legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts.
According to the State House News Service (SHNS), the Senate’s bill permits sports betting for persons aged 21 and up. Citizens would be able to gamble on professional sports while being in the state at casinos, gaming parlors, up to six other brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, and online.
So, is there any wonderful news for Massachusetts residents in- terms of the legalization of sports betting? Yes recently, the Senate cleared a sports betting bill submitted to them by the Ways and Means Committee last week.
However, S.2844 differs sufficiently from the one that was unanimously passed by the House last year to be problematic. If S.2844 passes the Senate, legislators would have three months to reconcile the bills.
Differences between Massachusetts’ two sports betting legislation
The following are key distinctions:
- The current version of S.2844 does not restrict collegiate sports betting. Boston’s upper professional sports teams expect to attract most of the legal betting public’s attention. While, Massachusetts is rife with high-profile athletic programs.
- Someone somewhere would be irritated if they couldn’t put money down on the Beanpot competition. (most people outside New England are unaware of this)
- In an interview, House Speaker Ronald Mariano stated that a plan without college gambling would “likely” lose his approval. Mariano believes that college betting would be more appealing to locals than betting on the Bruins, Celtics, or Red Sox. “I’m having a difficult time justifying the exclusion of the major driver of betting in the commonwealth,” he told a news reporter last summer.
- House leaders calculated that with college betting being permissible annual revenue would be nearly $60 million. However, revenue would be roughly half that amount with the restriction.
- Credit card funding is not permissible for sports wagering accounts, even though this practice has become widespread across the country. Sen. Eric Lesser, who has “mostly driven the Senate’s activities concerning sports betting,” appears to be entrenched. “The thought that someone might rack up large credit card bills from their couch which may have an addiction issue or have a gambling habit is a big concern, and it’s a big concern to our caucus,” he added.
- Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor would be able to accept online and retail wagers, with up to six commercial and mobile shops licensed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
- The Senate plan will tax operators at a rate of 20% on net wagering proceeds for storefront bets. And 35% on online bets, while the House version would levy rates of 12.5 percent and 15%.
- On all sides, there are vested interests. Boston University, the College of Holy Cross, Harvard, Merrimack College, Northeastern, and the UMass administration petitioned lawmakers in 2020 to prohibit college betting because of “Unneeded and intolerable risk to students, their campus colleagues, and the ethics and tradition of the Commonwealth’s academic institutions.”
In-state college betting is presently permissible in nearly half of the 32 American jurisdictions wherein sports betting is legal and active. Many others forbid placing prop bets on those teams.
According to SHNS, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will enforce sports betting and regulate parlors in the state. The bill also incorporates its own sports betting restrictions designed to protect against gambling addiction.
According to SHNS, brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will have taxes at a rate of 20% of their net sports betting revenues. While online sportsbooks will have taxes at a rate of 35% of their total sports betting receipts. This can generate up-to $35 million in tax revenue for the state each year.
However, there are other discrepancies between the Senate’s and House’s sports betting bills. According to SHNS, discrepancies include the Senate bill’s prohibition on betting on collegiate sports, much higher tax rates, and a prohibition on sports betting advertisements during live sports broadcasts.
Also, as per news source, the House and Senate must create a conference committee to address these discrepancies. The committee may form as soon as next week, and it would need to draft a compromise bill that might be adopted by the end of the regular legislative year on July 31.
Learn more about how the license works in other states:
Massachusetts is looking forward to the complete legalization
According to SHNS, Senate President Karen Spilka has come under growing fire from other members in recent time for seemingly dragging her heels on approving the bill. Also, as per SHNS, Spilka stated that the delay was due to the efforts to get universal Senate support for the bill. On Thursday, those efforts appeared to pay off when senators decided to pass the bill on a voice vote.
“I am glad to say that this law is the result of a deliberate, methodical procedure that takes into consideration the lessons learned in other states that have rushed into legality.” Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues allegedly said at the outset of Thursday’s debate.
“While few may wish we had done it earlier, I am certain that the time we spent led to a final solution that will serve as a national model for fair sports wagering.” If Massachusetts legalizes sports betting, it will be the 34th state to do so since the United States Supreme Court granted states the authority to do so in 2018, according to SHNS.
“We learned a lot since we waited,” said Sen. Eric Lesser, chairman of the Economic Development Committee and the Senate’s point person on sports betting.
As stated by Gov. Charlie Baker, “There are usually disputes between the House and the Senate on intricate pieces of legislation.” He further hopes that they will both work hard to deliver something to us by the end of the week that we can sign by the conclusion of the session.”