Senate Vote Thursday On Heavily Amended MA Sports Betting Bill

Written By Matthew Waters on April 26, 2022
MA sports betting

The Massachusetts Senate finally will weigh in on legal MA sports betting Thursday after about 10 months of inaction.

Senators have until 5 pm Tuesday to submit amendments to the amended H 3993, which was favorably approved in the Ways and Means committee last Friday.

H 3993 is the legislation passed by the House last year to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts. Considering some of the Senate changes, though, it might be hard for the two sides to find common ground.

Senate MA sports betting details

The amended H 3993, using text from Senate amendment S 2844, is a big change from what the House approved.

There are three big differences between the two pieces of sports betting legislation:

  • The Senate version does not allow betting on college sports. House Speaker Ron Mariano said last year no college betting could be a dealbreaker but did not respond to LSR to comment on the Senate’s proposal.
  • Taxes are much higher under the Senate proposal at 35% for mobile and 20% for retail with no promo deductions. That is compared to 15% and 12.5%, respectively, under the House proposal, which allows promo deductions.
  • There are fewer total licenses and fewer licenses running through the casinos in the Senate version. The Senate bill calls for nine mobile and retail licenses, three for casinos and the rest for competitive bid.

Tight restrictions on advertising?

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission would be tasked with adopting rules that could prohibit a lot of standard advertising practices seen elsewhere in US sports betting.

Listed among what must be prohibited by the commission that is not found in the House version:

  • Any form of ad or branding that could disrupt a viewer’s ability to watch, listen or “otherwise experience” a sporting event.
  • Advertising or marketing through certain promotional items the commission determines increases the likelihood of problem gambling. That could include giveaways, coupons or promotional credits.
  • Advertising on TV during a live broadcast of a sporting event including the five minutes before and after the event. Notably, this section mentions “to the extent practicable.”
  • Any advertising on TV, radio or internet unless at least 85% of the market is reasonably expected to be 21 or older. That section also says “to the extent practicable.”
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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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