Massachusetts Making Another Run at Sports Betting Legislation

Massachusetts Making Another Run at Sports Betting Legislation
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Momentum in Massachusetts for sports betting legislation took a major step on Monday.

A new Massachusetts sports betting bill — H.3974 — combining 12 previous drafts of sports betting legislation was released Monday afternoon by the state House’s Committee on Economic Development and Emerging technologies. It has been passed on to the state House Committee on Ways and Means, chaired by Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-3rd, Suffolk).

In June, the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies met and discussed 19 different gaming bills sponsored by more than a dozen lawmakers. Gov. Charlie Baker included $35 million in sports betting revenue in his spending proposal in February. Members of the House took that out of the final budget.

Four of the five states that border Massachusetts — New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York — have legalized sports betting. New Hampshire and Rhode Island are already taking bets. The next online sports betting markets to launch could be in Connecticut and in New York.

H.3974 Highlights

Highlights of H.3974 that would legalize retail and online sports betting include:

  • Three types of licenses: one for casinos, one for race tracks and one for mobile sportsbooks;
  • Three skins per casino; one per racetrack;
  • Tax rates will be 12.5% (in-person) and 15% (mobile). That is a reduction from previous bills;
  • Pre-game/event collegiate sports betting will be allowed, including eight in-state schools (something that was not allowed in previous drafts), however no player props or live in-play betting on collegiate sports will be allowed;
  • The application fee is $100,000. The license fee is $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 will be $4 million.
  • An official league data mandate will be implemented and eSports wagering will be included in the expansion of Massachusetts gambling.

Thursday Hearing?

The 38-page document is currently in conference with the committee and reports have indicated House Ways and Means Committee members could meet as early as Thursday, however, nothing on the committee’s website indicates that as of 5 p.m. ET Tuesday.

NCAA Division I schools in Massachusetts include: Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Holy Cross, Massachusetts, Merrimack, Northeastern and Massachusetts-Lowell.

Massachusetts state Rep. Orlando Ramos (D., Ninth Hampden District) recently introduced a sports betting bill (HB 531) that encourages 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.

The legislature in Massachusetts meets in two-year blocks starting each odd year. This session runs through Dec. 31.

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