Could Senate Bill Finally Lead To Legal MA Sports Betting?

Written By Matthew Waters on January 25, 2021
MA sports betting

As promised, Sen. Brendan Crighton filed the sports betting bill he hopes could finally bring about legal MA sports betting.

Crighton broke down the pertinent points for LSR earlier this month and there don’t appear to be any surprises in SD 177.

“We’ve modified our bill over the past few years but we’re pretty confident in the product we have now,” Crighton said at the time.

Crighton’s legislation would require an up-front $10 million fee from any gaming operator that wants to offer Massachusetts sports betting. Sports betting revenue would be taxed at 15%. The bill bans betting on in-state college sports.

Massachusetts obviously would be better off acting sooner than later to get legislation passed. Sports betting dollars are already freely flowing over its border to New Hampshire and Rhode Island, both of which legalized more than 18 months ago.

Who can take part in MA sports betting?

Now that SD 177 is published, we know who will be in line for a sports betting license:

  • Massachusetts’ two full-service casinos – Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield – and its Plainridge Park racino operated by Penn National.
    • That means Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM and WynnBET are guaranteed licenses.
  • Horse racing tracks and off-track betting facilities. New racetracks would be required to invest at least $25 million within three years to qualify for a license.
  • Mobile-only sports betting operators.

All licenses would be good for five years with a $1.25 million renewal fee. There’s no limit on licenses for now, though that could change as the bill progresses through the legislature.

Crighton mentioned his bill could bring in $70 million for the state before a bet is accepted.

House proposal calls for betting study

Rep. Bradford Hill has a sports betting proposal of his own, though it could slow down the rollout of a legal industry considerably.

HD 118 and HD 119 establish a special commission that would comprehensively study online sports betting. The eight-person commission would include appointees from Gov. Charlie Baker, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and leaders in the House and Senate.

The bills are identical except for the breakdown of where tax revenue will go.

“I want as many bills in so we can get something passed,” Hill said.

The commission would have to meet within 30 days of the bill’s passage. A recommendation for sports betting legislation would be due within 120 days of the bill’s passage.

Hill’s proposal also taxes daily fantasy sports revenue at 15% with an application fee that’s the lesser of $100,000 or 1.5% of the operator’s gross revenue from the previous year. DFS is not illegal in Massachusetts but there’s currently no tax structure.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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