Revamped MA Sports Betting Bills Differ On Key Details

Posted on July 20, 2021
MA sports betting
Posted By on July 20, 2021

It does not look like the joint committee hearing on MA sports betting led to a consensus proposal after all.

The sports betting bills heard by the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies all reported out of the committee favorably. The House bills were attached to H 3974, which is a rewritten version of Rep. Dan Cahill‘s H 506. The Senate bills, meanwhile, will be attached to Sen. Eric Lesser‘s S 269.

The House will take up discussions on H 3974 Thursday, according to an updated schedule emailed by House Speaker Ron Mariano. The Senate should not be far behind either given the upcoming summer break.

Last best chance in Massachusetts?

The legislative session lasts through the rest of the year, though, meaning there should be enough time to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts this year.

Massachusetts might not want to miss out on legal sports betting for another year. It is quickly being surrounded by states with open mobile betting, including Connecticut and New York.

Mohegan Digital CEO Rich Roberts said the company and its CT sports betting partner, FanDuel Sportsbook, will market to sports bettors in slower-moving states like Massachusetts.

Conference likely needed to decide MA sports betting details

There’s just one problem with the House considering Cahill’s rewritten bill and the Senate considering Lesser’s bill: they do not match. That means a conference committee will likely be needed to figure out the differences should both bills pass their respective chambers.

The Senate might be the bigger sticklers when it comes to figuring out a compromise. The House has tried to legalize MA sports betting before while the Senate has continued to drag its feet.

Both chose not to include MA sports betting in their budgets this year in the hopes of getting something done through a standalone bill.

Details from new MA sports betting bill

Cahill’s rewritten sports betting legislation includes a number of key changes from his previous proposal:

  • Sports betting revenue would be taxed at 12.5% for retail and 15% for online. He wanted 15% from both in H 506.
  • Casino operators could have up to three mobile sports betting brands, compared to just one previously.
  • There is no longer a ban on betting on in-state college teams. Cahill’s bill only allows for pre-game collegiate bets though.
  • One percent of all revenue from events in Massachusetts will be distributed to the facilities where those games were played based on the revenue from their hosted events. Those funds can only be used on betting security and integrity.
  • Cahill calls for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to study whether betting kiosks would make economic sense throughout the state. That study is due by the end of 2022.

Where are the differences?

There are a few significant disagreements between Cahill and Lesser’s bills:

  • Tax rate: Lesser calls for 20% on retail and 25% on mobile bets.
  • License and application fees: Both bills suggest different rates for nearly every license type.
  • Collegiate betting: Lesser calls for no betting on college sports at all.
  • Official league data: Cahill’s bill calls for the use of official league data to settle in-play wagers from US-headquartered sports. Lesser, meanwhile, wants data suppliers to pay at least $6 million upfront for a license and application and another $2 million to renew in five years.
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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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