By Nicholas Adamopoulos –
Early this morning, the Massachusetts legislature reached an agreement on a bill to legalize betting on both professional and college sports. The announcement came around 5:00 am Monday morning, after House Speaker Ron Mariano tweeted news of the agreement.
The bill will now head to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk for signature. The Governor has voiced support for legalized sports betting, and his eagerness to sign a bill into law. The agreed upon bill is for both professional and collegiate sports betting. Concerning collegiate betting, no bets can be made on a Massachusetts college or university unless the college or university is partaking in a national tournament, such as the yearly NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament.
Massachusetts joins thirty other states and the District of Columbia in allowing sports betting. The agreement further calls for a 15% tax on betting in person and a 20% tax on mobile betting. The bill will allow the Mass Gaming Commission to issue up to seven mobile gaming licenses, such as the popular DraftKings, FanDuel, and Barstool online applications. The bill will also allow for in-person betting at Encore Boston Harbor casino, MGM Springfield casino, and Plainridge Park.
The legislature is hoping for a quick roll out of the in-person licenses, with some in the legislature hoping for in-person betting to be allowed in time for the start of the NFL Season. Rules and regulations pertaining to the online applications will be fast tracked to the Gaming Commission, with the hope of licenses to be issued before the end of the year.
The legislation is a big step forward. Differences between the House and Senate proposed bills held up a vote during the last week of formal session in the legislature. It took an eleventh hour agreement to get the deal done and have it move to the Governor’s desk. With Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and New York all allowing sports betting, the Commonwealth was losing out on substantial revenue sources. The bill will now allow for individuals within the Commonwealth to make bets, and for the Commonwealth to retain the revenue from those bets.
With only seven online licenses being available, there will be competition in the licensure process. DraftKings, based in Boston, is hoping to be one of those who receive a license. Further, Barstool Sports, through its partnership with PENN and its close ties to Massachusetts will also be a favorite to receive one of the limited licenses.