Latest Massachusetts sports betting attempt clears first hurdle

Proposed legislation that would bring legal sports wagering to the state of Massachusetts has been sent to the committee on House Ways and Means after being introduced on Monday.

Lawmakers in the state will now consider sports betting bills from both the House and Senate.

MA House sports betting bill makes progress

The Massachusetts legislature will now consider sports betting bills from both the House and eventually the Senate.

The House bills were attached to bill H 3974 which is a revamped version of Representative Dan Cahill’s previous sports betting bill H 506. Meanwhile, the Senate bills will accompany Senator Eric Lesser’s bill S 269.

On Monday, H 3974 underwent several changes before being reported favorably by the committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies and then being referred to the committee on House Ways and Means.

The House is set to discuss the bill on Thursday and it should not be long until the Senate discusses their sports betting proposal.

Massachusetts’ legislative session will last for the rest of the year, which means that sports betting could be legalised by the end of the year.

What is covered in H 3974?

According to the bill text, H 3974 includes provisions for three different licence categories.

A category 1 licence would be issued to slot operators and allow licence holders to operate up to three individually branded mobile sports betting apps that have been approved by the state regulator. 

Mobile sports betting apps must receive a category 3 licence before they can operate in the state.

Meanwhile, a category 2 licence would be awarded to racing operators and would permit holders to operate just one individually branded mobile betting app.

Licence holders would be taxed 12.5%, while mobile and online sportsbook operators would be required to pay an additional 15% “privilege tax”. Tax payments would be due on or before the 15th calendar day every month.

The new tax rates differ significantly from the initial 15% tax rate proposed for online and land-based betting in Cahill’s previous bill H 506.

According to the bill, successful applicants will be required to pay a $5m licence fee for a five-year licensing period, with a $5m renewal fee. However, if an operator receives a full licence after being awarded a temporary licence, the fee will be reduced to $4m.

The proposed measure would not ban betting on in-state college teams, however, the bill only allows for pre-game collegiate bets.

Furthermore, 1% of all revenue from events in Massachusetts would be put towards the facilities where those games were played based on the revenue from their hosted events. These funds can only be used on betting security and integrity.

Cahill’s bill also calls for the use of official league data to settle in-play bets on US-based sporting events.

What about the Senate bill?

Lesser’s Senate sports betting bill contains several differences from the House proposal.

Under S 269, a tax rate of 20% would be applied to land-based sports betting while mobile operators would have to pay 25%.

On the issue of league data, the Senate bill would require data suppliers to pay at least $6m upfront for a licence and application which would run five years. After this period, they would need to pay $2m to renew the licence.

Lesser’s proposal would also ban all betting on collegiate sporting events.