It’s another big win for the US online gambling industry as a whole. After a lengthy debate that lasted into the early hours of Monday, state lawmakers reached an agreement on a bill legalizing Massachusetts sports betting. The bill now awaits a signature from Gov. Charlie Baker.
State Rep. David Muradian said lawmakers would add an emergency preamble to allow the law to take effect immediately upon signing.
Muradian anticipates sports betting to be up and running by the middle of the upcoming 2022 NFL Season.
Legalizing Massachusetts could be huge for overall US online gambling industry
Massachusetts is a large state with a population of nearly 7 million. The state already has a gambling presence via its popular retail casinos but has recently been losing potential revenue to nearby states that had online betting, including New York.
The critical question many visitors and residents of Massachusetts will be wondering is — who can participate in MA online sports betting?
Per the legislation, five gaming properties can have physical sportsbooks:
MGM Springfield (casino)
Encore Boston Harbor (casino)
Plainridge Park (casino)
Suffolk Downs (simulcast)
Raynham Park (simulcast)
The three casinos can each offer two Massachusetts mobile sports betting apps, while the two simulcast facilities may offer one betting app.
Seven online sportsbooks will be allowed to operate without physical location ties.
Muradian told PlayMA:
“For too long, Massachusetts has been losing out on millions of dollars in revenue to surrounding states that have approved legalized sports betting, despite widespread support to allow for this type of wagering. It took some time to work out the details and reach an agreement, but the end result is landmark legislation that protects the athlete and the consumer, while at the same time infusing our economy with an exciting new industry.”
While the bill does allow betting on eSports, there is no mention of legalizing MA online casino games.
Licensing and tax structure for sports betting in Massachusetts
A majority of the structure of the Massachusetts bill is similar to other jurisdictions. The state will allow wagering on college sports but not on in-state college teams, the exception being unless in-state schools are involved in a collegiate tournament like the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament.
There will be a 20% tax rate for online sports betting and a 15% tax rate for retail betting. Lastly, customers cannot use credit cards to fund betting accounts.
Other bill details include:
$5 million licensing fee renewable every five years
Mobile operators will pay an extra $1 million to the Public Health Trust Fund
Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) will oversee sports betting
Minimum age to place a bet is 21 years old
Wagering on eSports is legal
The MGC will also conduct a feasibility study to determine if sports betting kiosks should be allowed at local bars and restaurants. The commission must complete the study by Dec. 31.
On July 27, casino executives in Massachusetts strongly urged state lawmakers to act on the bill before Sunday’s session closed.
On Thursday, Muradian said, “I think if we don’t get a bill done, we have failed the citizens of the Commonwealth. I mean, it’s been abundantly clear — for sessions now — that they want it.”