Massachusetts Edging Towards Sports Betting

There has been a big push from a number of states to legalize sports betting and Massachusetts could become the latest to come to the party.

A vote is expected on the future of Massachusetts sportsbooks this week after the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed a sports wagering bill last week, which will now move it to a Senate vote. Should it be approved, there will be a three-month window for them to send the completed version to Gov. Charlie Baker.

Should that be approved, we could see the introduction of Massachusetts-based sports betting sites to the state. At this moment in time, residents of Massachusetts can only bet on sports using offshore sportsbooks that are based outside of the United States.

“I am pleased to see the committee has come to an agreement on a strong proposal, and I look forward to discussing it with my colleagues next week,” said Senate President Karen Spilka.

They will no doubt have seen the success of other states such as New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire and been inspired to have their own slice of the pie.

The House approved a sports betting bill by an enormous 156-3 margin last July, although that bill and the one passed through the Senate Ways and Means Committee share a fundamental difference in opinion. The Senate bill is against betting on college sports, meaning there would be no NCAA or March Madness betting in Massachusetts if it was to pass.

Early projections estimate that nearly $60 million of revenue would be generated from betting on college sports, but University officials from Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, Holy Cross and Northeastern have all been outspoken about it damaging the integrity of collegiate sports.

Tax rates have also differed within the two bills. The House bill is proposing a 12.5% tax rate for retail sports betting and 15% for mobile, while the Senate has set rates at 20% for retail sports betting and 35% for online betting. The Senate is proposing that nine sportsbook licenses be awarded, while the House bill is pushing for 11 operators to be allowed to set up in the state.

Massachusetts is a state that loves sports and is home to a number of major league franchises. They are home to the NBA’s Boston Celtics, the NFL’s New England Patriots, the NHL’s Boston Bruins and the MLB’s Boston Red Sox.