Sen. Eric Lesser spoke to reporters on Monday shedding more light on his proposal to legalize sports gambling in Massachusetts.
Bringing Sports Gambling in the Daylight
The State of Massachusetts is enjoying a fairly broad political endorsement of a hypothetical sport betting industry with Governor Charlie Baker and Senators Eric Lesser both signaling their confidence in a future for the Bay State where interactive wagering is regulated and taxed.
On Monday, Sen. Lesser laid down his opinion of what the state’s gambling expansion should bring. The senator explained that his bill was trying to strike a balance between what constituted rigorous consumer protection measures but at the same time made it possible for sports wagering to gain regulatory momentum in the state.
Sen. Lessor’s argument was on the lines of legalizing the industry for the sake of consumers. The idea, he said, was to bring sports betting “in the daylight,” a reference to a multi-billion offshore market that Americans use to bet on when there is no alternative closer to home.
As a co-chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, Sen. Lesser has the necessary clout to thrash out a deal that can be put on the floor in both houses and possibly pass through the legislature.
While the road to legalizing any bill is long, the House and governor have showed their readiness to help, although senators remain cautions. Speaking to reporters in a Zoom call, Sen. Lesser argued that he is confident sport gambling is coming to the state.
Making Sense of a Bill
Endorsing one bill or another is not a simple process. For starters, Sen. Lesser’s proposal goes a little heavy on the tax rate and it also wants to ban betting on collegiate events. The senator wants to see revenue levied with 20-25% tax whereas the governor’s bill proposes anything between 10 and 12.5%.
Then again, a counter-proposal by the House Ways and Means Committees argues that prop bets on individual athletes’ performance should be allowed. Another bill by Sen. Brendan Crighton would authorize collegiate sports betting.
While these details are yet to be thrashed out, the good news is that the House newly-elected speaker is all in favor. Ron Mariano could be an important ally in pushing any new bill through the lower chamber, but then again, the obstacle has always been the Senate.
Sen. Lesser is not afraid to go bolder on application fees than any of the counterparts, too. He wants any entity applying for a license to be prepared to pay anything between $1 and $2 million, which is steep.
Then, he wants to see companies pay a $7.5 million fee to obtain a license and renew that license every five years. Sen. Lesser also touches on consumer protection, arguing that credit cards are out of the question.
With the Bay State still having plenty of time, regulating sports betting is definitely on the agenda for this legislative session.