Massachusetts house speaker Ron Mariano has expressed his support for college betting on Thursday during the Government Affairs Forum of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. He stated the state Senate bill is too focused on controlling the industry and doesn’t really help people with their gambling problems.
The State Senate Bill Is “Paternalistic,” According to Mariano
Current state law forbids betting on sports and residents of the Commonwealth are no strangers to crossing borders and travelling to states where betting is legal.
Mariano touched down on this topic by saying that DraftKings reported that 35% of all Celtics playoff bets in New Hampshire were actually made by residents of Massachusetts. He added that a similar trend was also present during March Madness. He stated that the Senate bill is paternalistic and does not help people with their gambling problems.
To solidify his argument as to why college sports betting should be allowed, Mariano compared sports betting to the legal marijuana market.
He said that in the period between 2019 and 2020, people started shifting from the black market to the legal cannabis market and as the legal market keeps expanding, the state recently reached $3 billion in revenue. These same methods can be used for college sports betting.
As a concluding matter, Mariano showed his support for tax breaks, notably an increase in property tax. Although he did not state a figure, Mariano said that he’s open to proposals.
Massachusetts’ House and Senate Have Different Views of the Sports Betting Industry
A sports betting bill that was drafted by the state House last year featured college sports betting and using credit cards as a payment method, but the Senate decided not to feature these sections in its own version of the bill.
At the moment, sports betting is legal in more than 30 states in the US, including several states near Massachusetts – New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Senator Eric P. Lesser, the author of the Senate bill, believes that by legalizing the industry, Massachusetts could receive between $35 million and $65 million in tax revenue.
He also added that the Senate bill has been created very carefully and puts major emphasis on consumer protection. Additionally, it encourages responsible betting and competitiveness in the market.
Apart from the college sports betting ban, the Senate bill on sports betting also features higher tax rates and a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling ads during live sports game broadcasts.
Lesser argued that patience has paid off as the state was able to learn a lot about how to regulate the industry while waiting. He added that one of the things that the state learned is that there must be a competitive market and a high-quality product for the consumers.
The clash between the House and Senate bills is still ongoing and the president of AGA recently called for action and urged the state to find a way to consolidate both bills.