On August 10th, Governor Charlie Baker signed the proposed sports betting bill into law, paving the way for the upcoming strict regulatory process that the state of Massachusetts is set to face over the next few months.
Governor Baker’s signature has formally finalized the long-time effort to make sports betting legal in Massachusetts and make the state’s gambling market a worthy competitor of neighboring states that have already legalized the new form of gambling following the 2018 decision of the US Supreme Court to lift the federal ban on the practice. It comes only a day before the August 11th deadline to take action on the piece of legislation that was sent to the Governor a week ago.
Mr. Baker issued a statement, saying that his administration had first filed legislation to make betting on sports legal in the Commonwealth a few years ago, so he was happy that he could finally sign the bill into law. He further noted that his administration highly appreciated the dedication of Massachusetts lawmakers to find a compromise on the issue and was looking forward to supporting the operation of the state’s Gaming Commission in order for the law to be implemented in a responsible manner.
Even with the Governor’s approval, the implementation of the new form of gambling will take some time, as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is taking over the process. According to preliminary projections, local residents may be able to place bets on sporting events in 2023.
Massachusetts Lawmakers Reach Compromise Deal on the Legalization of Sports Betting
As previously reported by the CasinoGamesPro, the state’s gambling regulatory body would have to solidify regulations for sports betting within the state gambling sector and process licensing applications. Last week, a new timeline emerged during a meeting of the regulatory body, following some top legislators’ prediction that the new form of gambling could be up and running in time for the upcoming football season.
Reaching a compromise deal on sports betting was not guaranteed, considering the fact that lawmakers had different stances regarding licensing logistics, tax rates, and a bunch of other measures associated with the new form of gambling. Apart from that, they had to race against the clock to settle their differences when it comes to the bill that eventually failed to advance on Beacon Hill.
After Governor Baker laid his signature on the proposed piece of legislation, some lawmakers shared their hope that the implementation of the sports betting law does not take too much time.
According to Senator Eric Lesser, the new law would provide the residents of Massachusetts with the chance to raise their engagement with sports, bring new investment and generate new jobs. He further noted that the piece of legislation also includes some of the strongest consumer and player safeguards in the US, so that it could be a model for other states that are looking forwards to legalizing sports betting.
Sports Betting Unlikely to Be Key Revenue Stream for the State
Legal sports betting is not expected to serve as a key revenue stream for the state of Massachusetts but the legalization effort came as local lawmakers are willing to tackle the black market activity and make sure that the money of local residents is no longer drained into neighboring states, such as New York and Connecticut, where the new form of gambling is already legal.
Under the provisions of the law, a 15% tax rate on in-person sports betting services and a 20% tax rate on online and mobile sports betting services was set.
Apart from that, the piece of legislation also allows betting on some collegiate sports – a matter that emerged as a sticking point following some of the lawmakers. However, Massachusetts Legislature agreed that local residents can only do so if colleges and universities were involved in a collegiate tournament.
A total of three licensing categories are outlined in the bill – in-person sports betting services offered at local casinos with some online and mobile application options; in-person sports betting services offered at live or simulcast horseracing facilities; and online and mobile sports betting services.
Customers would not be allowed to use credit cards to place bets on sporting events. They need to be provided with qualitative protection, with licensed online wagering platforms and mobile applications required to also prominently display information for an available problem gambling helpline that is set to be overseen by the Department of Public Health of Massachusetts.