Massachusetts’ Senate has passed a bill that would finally legalize sports betting in the state. According to this bill, residents of legal age will be able to bet on professional, but not collegiate sports. The state’s House voted to authorize sports betting last July with 156 votes for and just 3 against.
The House and Senate Bills Differ in a Couple of Ways
The Senate bill is estimated to generate around $35 million in annual tax as people older than 21 will be able to wager on professional sports at land-based sportsbooks, casinos, slot parlors, mobile and online casinos.
This industry would be regulated by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which would oversee all activities and will license operators. Additionally, the Senate bill will require consumer protection points so that punters will be protected from problem gambling.
However, the Senate bill differs from the House bill in a few ways. First off, the tax rate in the Senate bill is significantly higher, a whistle-to-whistle ban on betting ads during broadcasts is present and the most significant difference is the fact that the House bill allows betting on both collegiate and professional sports, whereas the Senate bill allows betting on professional sports only.
Senator Mark Montigny commented on betting on collegiate sports by saying that he hopes that it won’t be allowed. He also stated that in the beginning, he also opposed casino gambling, but that he “isn’t such a fool” to stand in the way of this trend.
Governor Charlie Baker commented on the disagreement by saying that there are always issues when it comes to “complicated pieces of legislation.” He also added that he hopes that the House and the Senate will find a common ground and get something that will be signed by the end of the session.
Legalized Sports Betting Will Not Allow the Black Market to Flourish
Senator Jamie Eldridge spoke to the Boston Herald ahead of the vote on Thursday and stated that even though he historically opposed gambling, legalizing and regulating online sports betting could be a good thing as it won’t allow the black market to flourish.
He compared the legalization of sports betting to the recent marijuana legalization in the state and noted that a well-regulated industry will protect the consumers. Eldridge concluded by saying that the same could be applied to college sports betting.
Karen Spilka, the president of the Senate, has received some backlash for seemingly slowing down the process of passing the bill through the Senate. One of the people who criticized her work was Ronald Mariano, a House speaker.
However, Spilka commented on the case by saying that she wants to make sure that there’s consensus around any legislation that comes forth on her watch. Judging by the fact that S2844 was passed unanimously, it seems that her way was productive.