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Massachusetts Senate to Vote on Sports Betting this Week after Reviving Bill

Massachusetts Senate to Vote on Sports Betting this Week after Reviving Bill article feature image

Al Bello/Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum (Celtics)

After gathering dust for more than a year, a Massachusetts sports betting proposal is finally moving forward, though it’s headed for a hard stop once it clears its next hurdle.

On Friday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee advanced a bill to legalize online and retail sports betting, which it had held since last summer. The move sets SB 269 up for a Senate floor vote this Thursday, where it will likely pass, according to sources in the legislature.

The bill vastly differs from the House’s competing betting plan — which last moved over 10 months ago — but remains a good indicator of how they envision sports betting in the Commonwealth.

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Senate and House Divided

Senators may offer amendments ahead of the Thursday vote, though the House is unlikely to play ball unless most of the following is either removed or changed:

  • A prohibition on all forms of collegiate betting (not just Massachusetts colleges)
  • A 35% tax rate on online sports betting and 20% tax rate on retail sports betting.
  • Online operators capped at 6.
  • A ban on using credit cards to fund online accounts or pay for in-person wagers.

The Senate’s bill would also ban sports betting ads during live sporting event broadcasts, and impose a number of other marketing restrictions.

Some states like New Jersey have banned betting on their own college teams, over concerns of match-fixing, but no state has yet banned betting on out-of-state colleges.

House Speaker Ronald Mario (D) has called the collegiate ban a “dealbreaker.”

The House’s bill would tax online and retail sports betting at lower 15% and 12.5% rates respectively. It would also generate as much as $60 million in annual tax revenue, according to a fiscal analysis, which projects the Senate’s plan would generate between $25 million to $35 million a year.

Pending Senate passage, the House will likely call for a conference committee to sort out their differences.

Gov. Charlie Barker (D) has been supportive of sports betting for years, though for him to sign a bill, House and Senate lawmakers must agree on the same proposal by July 31, the last day of Massachusetts’ legislative session.

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