Massachusetts finally appears to be serious about legalizing sports betting.
New England‘s sports capital had been strangely quiet on the topic for the past two years. Five bills were introduced in the state, but they only generated one hearing.
Right before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies advanced a new bill that appears ready to move.
Massachusetts sports betting bill year in making
The five previous sports betting bills introduced in Massachusetts were referred to the joint committee. After studying the issue for a year, the legislative panel created H 4559 to take the place of the other proposals.
The bill authorizes sports betting for:
- Three Massachusetts casinos
- One slot parlor
- Horse racing tracks
- Up to five online-only operators
Massachusetts has two resort casinos in MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, with a future casino authorized for the southwest region of the state. Penn National operates the Plainridge Park slot parlor and harness horse racing track.
DraftKings Sportsbook, one of the most prominent operators of legal sports betting, has its headquarters in Boston.
What’s in MA sports betting bill
The legislation permits in-person and online wagering on professional sports and NCAA Division I collegiate sports. Here are some key details:
- Combined application and license fee for casinos, slot parlor and online sportsbooks of $1 million, renewable every five years for $500,000.
- Resort casinos may offer three online skins, while the slot parlor gets two.
- Horse racing tracks pay a $150,000 application and license fee renewable annually for $25,000.
- Tax rate 10% on retail, 12% online.
- Wagering is excluded on the Olympics, esports and in-play performance of collegiate athletes.
- Bans the use of credit cards to place wagers.
- No requirement for use of official league data.
Path forward for Massachusetts
The joint committee assigned the bill to the House Ways and Means Committee on March 12 with a recommendation that it ought to pass. The committee estimated the bill could bring $20 million in annual state revenue.
Duane Morris’ Gaming Industry Group indicated that it expects the bill to pass both chambers this year. The deadline for the legislature to pass the bill is July 31.
Gov. Charlie Baker is waiting with pen in hand. Baker said last year that he wants a sports betting bill on his desk by June.