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Massachusetts lawmakers appear to be taking the volume approach to sports betting legislation. It remains to be seen whether any of the bills will turn out to be law.
A total of 14 proposed sports betting invoices are open for discussion after the Massachusetts bill filing deadline on Friday. The state plans to join Rhode Island and New Hampshire to complete legal sports betting in New England.
PILLAR: Don’t expect a quick fix for sports betting in Massachusetts
State Senator Eric Lesser (D-First Hampden & Hampshire District) held a 27-minute Zoom press conference Monday afternoon to summarize his bill – SD 2365 – filed on Friday.
Lesser legislation sets a framework for personal and mobile bets on professional sports in the stationary casinos, racetracks and stand-alone mobile licenses of the state. The legislation will also include some of the most comprehensive and strict consumer protection regulations in the country to protect both athletes and weather, he said.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) would regulate and operate licenses for three categories under its legislation.
Casinos and slot machines can apply for a Category 1 license that allows for personal sports betting and partnerships with three branded mobile applications.
Plainridge Park, the only harness racing circuit in Massachusetts and a facility authorized to conduct simulcast betting, may apply for a Category 2 license for personal sports betting and branded mobile application.
The MGC can also approve six Category 3 licenses that enable sports betting through a mobile application or other digital platforms.
Each category license would have a separate application, initial license, and renewal fees. A tax rate of 20% would be charged for licensees of categories 1 and 2 and a tax rate of 25% for licensees of category 3 and daily fantasy sports operators.
This law also ensures funding is available for consumer protection initiatives by paying 5% of proceeds to the Public Health Trust Fund to support social service and public health programs that address issues related to compulsive sports gaming deal.
While the bill allows betting on professional sports and live betting, it does not allow betting on college, high school, Olympic, or amateur sports.
“The governor’s budget, released last month, estimated tax revenue at $ 35 million, excluding college sports,” Lesser said Monday. “The Gaming Commission wrote a white paper about a year ago and valued $ 8-10 million at $ 60 million. I think the $ 30 million to $ 35 million range is probably correct, but we have to see.
“It’s an important amount of money to be caught, but it is certainly not something to balance the state budget on.”
Some other bills up for discussion among the 14 include HD 3606 by Orlando Ramos (D-9th Hampden); SD 2237 by Adam Gomez (D-Hampden); SD 177 from Senator Brendan Crighton (D-3rd Essex); and HB 118 and HB 119, both similar bills, sponsored by Rep. Bradford Hill (R-4th Essex).
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a proponent of sports betting, presented HD 678 ahead of his overall state budget proposal to the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual meeting in late January.