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Sports betting in Massachusetts was put on hold last week after the Senate scrapped sports betting from the new economic development bill. After getting huge favor in the House, the Senate felt the bill was better amended without the sports betting language in it.
Massachusetts was expecting to get sports betting this year, and that is still possible; however, it will need to come a different way than how lawmakers initially tried to legalize it.
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Senators did not believe it was right to slap a sports betting bill on the back of the economic development bill. They are in favor of passing sports betting, just not in this manner.
The House of Representatives felt that adding sports betting would bring in additional and much-needed revenue.
The proposal included a $250k application fee covering the first five years of operation with a $100k renewal fee for the second five years.
The state had proposed a 15 percent tax on adjusted gross sports wagering receipts with an additional one percent for events taking place in Massachusetts.
What’s Next for Massachusetts Sports Betting?
Lawmakers will need to find another way to get sports betting bill through Congress. There is bipartisanship for sports betting; however, the Senate did not feel like it was right to legalize sports betting by putting it on at the end of an economic development bill.
Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, is a proponent for sports betting and would like to see it passed sooner than later. Baker could use sports betting revenue in the state budget. Although the state has discussed legalizing sports betting since 2018, they have yet to find a way to legalize it.
Overall, the House will need to go back to work on a bill. There were some details that the Senate pointed out that might have saved sports betting in Massachusetts from becoming a disaster.
Some of the language used in the bill would only allow five sports betting licenses to operators and giving three of them to casinos. FanDuel and DraftKings would also be permitted to open sportsbooks.
Revenue sharing was also in the bill and could have been the first state to do something of its kind in the sports betting industry. There is a chance that could be in the final bill if lawmakers look to hash details over the coming months.
The Importance of Passing the Bill
The biggest issue with Massachusetts not passing the sports betting portion of the bill is it will cost the state more revenue. People from Massachusetts can go to Rhode Island or New Hampshire to place bets on their favorite teams.
Legalizing sports betting will keep revenue within the state to help the local economy. Now, lawmakers will need to figure out a way to get a bill back through Congress so they can legalize sports betting in Massachusetts.
The coronavirus has also decimated state budgets across the country. The state will ace deficits and need different revenue streams to pull from to help soften the blow. Sports betting has been a go-to for most states as it will create an instant revenue stream for a state to use.
Massachusetts lawmakers will turn to this as a way to push another sports betting bill through.Free Betting News & Bonus OffersFind Out When You Can Legally Bet in Your State
Massachusetts may not only legalize sports gambling. The state may eventually become a new hub for online sports wagering.
In January of 2019, Gov. Charlie Baker proposed a bill that would make Massachusetts the second state in the nation (following the lead of online sports betting in Tennessee) to allow online sports wagering that is unaffiliated with land-based casinos.
What MA sports betting could look like
Unlike most bills legalizing sports gambling, Baker’s proposal would ban any bets on NCAA sporting events. Currently, New Jersey is the only state that restricts betting on NCAA events, and that is only on teams from the state or events taking place within its borders.
Baker’s bill would allow residents anywhere in the state to bet from their smartphones or to place live wagers at recently-opened casino MGM-Springfield. The massive Encore-Boston Harbor is expected to open just outside of downtown Boston in Everett in June of 2019, pending approval by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC).
The proposal would tax online wagers at a rate of 12.5 percent, whereas bets at live sportsbooks would be taxed at a rate of 10 percent. It is the fifth bill proposed by legislators in the state and one of three bills proposed in January, giving the House options to choose from if it decides to move towards legalized sports betting.
While there is pressure from Massachusetts residents and lobbyists to pass this legislation and compete with the gambling market in neighboring states Rhode Island and Connecticut, the groundbreaking nature of Baker’s proposal is causing some delays.
What still needs to happen?
In April of 2019, the Massachusetts House of Representatives delayed Baker’s bill (which included an overall proposal on the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year), signaling a more deliberative approach towards the issues surrounding sports gambling.
The MGC is also investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against Wynn Resorts founder Steve Wynn that could delay the opening of the Encore-Boston Harbor Casino. The commission fined Wynn Resorts $35 million in April for the company’s role in covering up those accusations.
Officials of the Massachusetts State Lottery, which is currently only an in-person business, assert that the Lottery should also be allowed to accept online wagers if the bill is proposed. This adds a wrinkle that the House will have to consider.
There are powerful groups within the Bay State that are lobbying for the passage of this law, including Boston-based DraftKings. The owner of the largest Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) platform and online sportsbook, DraftKings has a vested interest in legalizing an industry that is currently thriving through illegal avenues.
Massachusetts legislators took a similarly slow approach in 2016 when deliberating on the legality of DFS.
Projected Massachusetts sports betting launch date
While sports betting bills will be up for discussion during the legislative session in May, the House appears to be in no rush to make a decision. The House has until November of 2019 to pass any of the three proposals into law. If legislators decide to ratify Baker’s bill, there could be legal online sports betting available in Massachusetts sometime in 2020.