A Massachusetts committee will meet this Thursday in a bid to bring more clarity to the fate of sports gambling, a hot-button topic for most of the Bay State. Legislators are still split on whether sports gambling should be introduced to the state, but there seems to be good momentum forming behind the proposal. Still, lawmakers would have until July 31, when the session ends, to decide on sports gambling laws.
Massachusetts to Race for Sports Gambling Finishing Line
Reps. Jerald Parisella, David Muradian, and Aaron Michlewitz will meet with Sens. Michael Rodrigues, Eric Lesser, and Patrick O’Connor at 2 pm on Thursday to debate the issue. Legal sports wagering will definitely cause some rift among lawmakers, as some believe that the issue is too sensitive, others oppose it, and third admit that without it, Massachusetts would continue to lose ground to neighboring states and worse, the offshore and grey gambling markets.
Even markets with fully-regulated gambling, such as Michigan, continue to report instances of illegal gambling. The committee, which was set up on May 19, is yet to begin work and sports betting is not the only item on its agenda. Meanwhile, there are two separate pieces of legislation to discuss. The House Bill is far more ambitious in its reach and it wants to legalize gambling in college sports.
Meanwhile, the Senate Bill shows more conservatism in that area and restricts a number of big-ticket items such as sports betting advertising, marketing, and even the use of credit cards. In a way, the Senate Bill reminds us of regulations as they exist in Europe. The Senate Bill is also pushing for a 20% tax on gross revenue, which is higher than the national average.
The House Bill argues that a tax of 12.5% here could be a little more appropriate. This is only for wagers placed in person. Concerning online and mobile wagers, both bills have increased their levy. The Senate Bill wants to collect 35% tax on interactive wagers compared to only 15% for the House Bill.
Two Bills, Two Concepts for Sports Gambling in Massachusetts
Understandably, there are two fairly different solutions, with one of them being a little too heavy-handed, argue some representatives. House Speaker Ronaldo Mariano has been outright critical of the proposal, arguing that he had a hard time understanding what the point of the Senate Bill was in the first place.
“The Senate bill is a paternalistic bill, it has all these anti-gaming protections so you don’t get hooked on gaming. But you leave those two things to the black market,” Mariano concluded. However, Senate President Karen Spilka politely objected and argued that the Senate piece of legislation came from a position of very strong problem gambling safeguards.