Massachusetts is reviving the debate around sports wagering, which did not manage to pass at the end of the last legislative session.
Crighton Wants to Redirect Money from Sports Betting to the Regulated Market
Earlier this week, Senator Brendan Crighton, a Democrat from Lynn, reintroduced a bill aimed at legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts.
Lawmakers in the New England state were about to legalize sports betting last year, but eventually left it out of an economic development bill. Legalizing sports betting has been on the agenda of Sen. Brendan Crighton for years and he is confident that the updated bill will be approved this time.
In November last year, sports teams and gaming operators sent a letter to legislators asking for sports wagering to be passed. According to the coalition, sports betting would mitigate the losses brought by the forced shutdown of casinos due to the pandemic.
In an interview with CommonWealth, Crighton said that at the moment the money is going to the black market and to other states. He added that legalizing the sector will ensure players are protected.
Last summer, a bill to legalize sports betting was introduced to the Massachusetts House. Sports betting was then added to a version of an economic development bill, but the Senate never voted on the policy and it was excluded from the final version of the economic development bill.
The lead Senate negotiator, Senator Eric Lesser, a Longmeadow Democrat, said at the time that the Senate would like to approve sports betting, but the economic development bill was the right instrument for the purpose.
What Are the Changes to the New Bill?
The most significant update in the current version of the bill is the application fee, which is now $10 million, up from $1 million last year. Casinos and horse tracks could become a major source of revenue, as they would be permitted to offer sports betting that could bring in $70 million for the state before a bet is even placed.
The revenue coming from both online and retail sports betting will be subject to a 15% tax, an increase from 12.5% previously. The rate will produce good revenue for the state and at the same time it will allow regulated operators to compete with offshore books. Residents who bet on sports at offshore online sportsbooks are not penalized by the state at the moment.
Betting on any events that include collegiate teams from Massachusetts is banned. However, that is an improvement from Governor Charlie Baker‘s proposed bill last year that prohibited all forms of college betting. Crighton’s bill does not address the number of skins per casino or racetrack will be allowed to license.