Massachusetts Sports Betting Bill Moves ForwardPublished April 13, 2020 by Elana K
The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies has advanced sports betting bill, H 4559, to the the House Ways and Means Committee with a recommendation that it should pass.
Massachusetts lawmakers are finally propelling forward a sports betting bill. Right before states starting shutting down due to the pandemic, Massachusetts’ Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies advanced H 4559, a combination of several previous sports bills that never made the cut.
What’s in the Bill?
H 4559 will allow sports betting at three Massachusetts casinos, one slot parlor, all horse racing tracks, and up to five online-only operators.
Bettors will be allowed to place wagers in-person and online on professional sports and NCAA Division I collegiate sports. Exclusions include the Olympics, esports, and in-play college bets.
As for the casinos and operators that wish to offer sports betting, they will need to pay a combined application and licensing fee of $1 million, which they will have to renew every five years for half that amount. Racetracks will only be charged an application/licensing fee of $150 thousand, which must be renewed yearly for $25 thousand. The tax rate is 10 percent for retail and 12 percent for online bets.
Resort casinos can offer up to three online skins and the slot parlor can offer two. Since the Supreme Court ruled that sports betting is legal in the U.S. in 2018, states have debated whether to allow operators to offer skins, or branded websites, and if so, how many. The new Massachusetts bill seems to have reached a compromise of allowing some skins but not an unlimited amount.
The Next Steps
The Joint Committee has assigned the bill to the House Ways and Means Committee with a recommendation that it should pass. For this to happen, the Massachusetts legislature needs to approve it by July 31. This should be a no-brainer, especially since the bill is supported by Governor Charlie Baker.
The only potential complication is that the pandemic will divert legislative attention. If H 4559 does, however, get passed, sports betting could be up and running sometime this year or early 2021. It is estimated that the current bill could generate $20 million in state revenue a year, a good reason to make it a priority.