Massachusetts House Advances Sports Betting Bill in 156-3 Vote

Massachusetts House Advances Sports Betting Bill in 156-3 Vote
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After many recesses and 13 amendments adopted, the Massachusetts state house overwhelmingly passed a Massachusetts sports betting bill by a vote of 156-3 early Thursday evening and has moved it to the Senate.

The Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies met in June and discussed 19 different gaming bills sponsored by more than a dozen lawmakers before coming to an agreement.

The Senate will likely consider the House sports betting bill and its own after a summer break. The legislature in Massachusetts meets in two-year blocks starting each odd year. This session runs through Dec. 31.

Fast-paced Couple of Days

On Wednesday, H.3974 was reported from the House Ways and Means Committee to the House, where the new draft, renamed H.3977, was submitted Thursday for a third reading.

After 13 amendments were adopted, including protecting and encouraging minority business participation and an unlimited number of “untethered” operators that are not affiliated with brick-and-mortar facilities can also apply for a license, the final vote came down Thursday. If the bill to expand Massachusetts gambling passes in full as it is written from the Senate, the Bay State would be the first state in the nation to permit tethered and untethered sports wagering licenses.

The latest bill combines 12 previous drafts of sports betting legislation that were introduced earlier this year.

Four of the five states bordering Massachusetts — New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York — have legalized sports betting. New Hampshire and Rhode Island have been taking wagers since 2020.

Key online sports betting markets in New York and in Connecticut are working through the process to launch. New York already has retail sports betting.

Highlights of the Massachusetts Bill

Some of the key provisions in the amended H.3977 include:

  • Three types of licenses: one for casinos, one for race tracks and one for mobile sportsbooks;
  • Three skins per casino; one per racetrack; there will be tethered and untethered licenses available, a first in the U.S.
  • Tax rates will be 12.5% (in-person) and 15% (mobile);
  • Pre-game/event collegiate sports betting will be allowed, including on the eight in-state schools, however player prop bets on collegiate sports is prohibited;
  • Application fee is $100,000 with a license fee of $5 million for five years and another $5 million renewal fee for five years. If an operator receives a $1 million temporary license, the initial fee becomes $4 million.
  • An official league data mandate will be implemented and eSports wagering will be included.
  • Small business participation that could be minority-owned in Massachusetts.

Maryland, which legalized sports betting this year, encourages minority-owned and female-owned businesses in its new law.

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