Massachusetts Won’t Have Shortage of Sports Betting Bills

Massachusetts Won’t Have Shortage of Sports Betting Bills
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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has introduced new sports betting legislation prior to his overall state budget proposal before the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual meeting on Friday.

HD 678 would allow licensed casinos and online platforms in Massachusetts to offer online sports betting, but customers could only bet on professional sports. No collegiate, high school athletics or Esports bets would be accepted in Baker’s bill.

According to MassLive.com, the governor's bill would earmark the estimated $35 million in new revenue in Fiscal Year 2020 for local aid. It’s the third year in a row Baker has counted on revenue from sports betting in his budget proposal.

“Expanding Massachusetts' developing gaming industry to include wagering on professional sports is an opportunity for Massachusetts to invest in local aid while remaining competitive with many other states pursuing similar regulations," Baker said.

The state House approved sports betting legislation in 2020 as part of an economic development bill, but it died in the Senate, which has been a roadblock to sports betting in the past.

Currently, 20 states (including Rhode Island and New Hampshire in New England), plus the District of Columbia, have legal sports betting.

Baker’s proposal will be added to the mix of other legislators who have filed or are planning to file other proposals for Massachusetts sports betting, including Sen. Brendan Crighton, who recently re-filed SD 177.

Modeled After New Jersey

In an interview with WGBH's Boston Public Radio Thursday, Baker said he modeled his proposal on New Jersey, where sports betting has been a huge success. The December sports betting handle for New Jersey was almost $1 billion, a national record.

HD 678 would give sports betting oversight to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. It would approve license applicants and enforce consumer protections.

Casinos and slots parlors in Massachusetts — MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge — would be eligible to apply for a sportsbook license and could also partner with outside operators for online sports wagering. Online-only platforms could apply to the MGC for a license, as well.

The profits on in-person wagers would be taxed at 10%, while online wagering would be taxed at 12.5%. Baker said he was also proposing to tax online daily fantasy sports at 12.5%.

Baker’s bill would require license applicants to pay a $100,000 application fee and a $500,000 license fee, renewed every five years, according to the legislation.

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