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Massachusetts Sports Wagering Legalization Still in the Making


Since the US Supreme Court ruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional back in 2018, more than 30 states have legalized and launched some form of sports wagering. The repeal of the 1992 federal law led to a state-wide expansion of the activity.

By now, nearly all of Massachusetts’ neighboring states have introduced some form of sports betting. Earlier this year, New York launched its mobile sports betting market which last month reported a betting handle of $1.63 billion. But sports betting is also available in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, all of which are bordering Massachusetts too. While lawmakers continue to make efforts to legalize the activity, sports fans in the Bay State may finally be able to wager legally later this year.

Senate Sports Wagering Legalization Proposal Gains Traction

Two proposals are seeking to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts. One of them is pushed forward by the House, while the other is favored by the Senate in the state. The proposal of the House passed an overwhelming vote of 156-3 last summer.

On the other hand, according to a report of the State House News Service, a new Senate proposal was greenlighted by the Senate Ways and Means Committee last week Friday. If the proposal gains further traction this week, the next step would be for lawmakers to introduce amendments to the bill within three months. After that, the proposal would seek the signature of Governor Charlie Baker, before being signed into law. In theory, Massachusetts may legalize sports wagering this year, but everything remains in the hands of lawmakers.

I am pleased to see the committee has come to agreement on a strong proposal and I look forward to discussing it with my colleagues next week.

Karen Spilka, Senate President

For months, Karen Spilka, the Senate president, didn’t join the discussions about sports betting legalization before a consensus is reached with the senators. However, last week, he revealed that he is pleased to see the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed the proposal. Spilka acknowledged that now, he will be looking forward to discussing the proposal even further.

The new proposal confirms that sports wagering legalization are slowly gaining traction in the state. With that in mind, a survey from last month reveals that the activity received the overwhelming support of the senators. The State House News Service revealed the details of a poll in March, outlining that 60% of the senators in Massachusetts support the legalization of sports betting.

Betting on College Sports vs Ban for Betting on College Sports

The Senate proposal gaining traction is undoubtedly good news for sports fans in Massachusetts. In fact, the earlier the state legalizes and launches the activity, the better it would be for the bettors that are currently going out of state to wager.

One major difference between the proposal pushed by the Senate and the House is wagering on college sports. The Senate’s proposal calls to ban wagering on college sports, while the House bill includes betting on college sports. This, according to analysts, may result in a significant decrease in the revenue the state would collect from the activity. If sports betting on college sports is available, estimates show that Massachusetts may collect $60 million in revenue per year. In contrast, excluding wagering on college sports, as per the Senate proposal, may result in revenues between $25-$35 million annually for the state.

Another major difference between the House and Senate proposals is the tax rate. The House bill calls for a 15% tax on mobile wagering and a 12.5% tax on retail wagering activities. That is significantly less than the Senate proposal that features a 20% tax on retail betting and 35% on mobile betting activities.

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