Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker

  • Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts is backing Bill HD 678 that would make mobile and retail sports betting legal for Massachusetts.
  • Under this legislation, it is expected that $35 million in revenue would be made by the sports wagering each year for the economy.
  • The Massachusetts Legislature adjourns for the year on December 31, giving lawmakers the entire year to allow for the passage of a sports betting bill like Bill HD 678.

BOSTONGovernor Charlie Baker has filed and introduced a bill that would legalize sports betting in Massachusetts.

Governor Baker has been an advocate to make sports wagering legal for the Bay State for quite a while and has made that public knowledge by not only speaking in favor of it but also by adding the pastime to multiple budget proposals including the 2021 budget, which was later taken out by lawmakers.

Now going into the 2021 legislative session, Baker has decided to introduce a sports wagering bill in the form of Bill HD. 678.

The legislation was presented by Baker on Friday to the Massachusetts Municipal Association before his yearly budget proposal meeting with the group.

What Is Bill HD 678?

The Bay State has been trying for years since the repeal of PASPA to get legal sports betting made into an industry in the Commonwealth without success.

The 2020 session looked promising with a bill that passed in the House and only needed the approval of the Senate but the Coronavirus Pandemic took on a life of its own and tabled most bills that were irrelevant to dealing with COVID-19 like that of legal sportsbooks.

Under HD 678, casinos would be able to expand into land-based sportsbooks and various mobile sports wagering operations would be eligible to open statewide.

All professional sports would be open for bets but collegiate events and esports are banned within the current draft of the bill. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is named as the regulator of the industry, overseeing licensure and implementation of the rules and regulations for legal sports betting in Massachusetts.

Taxes on GGR for brick-and-mortar locations have been set at 10% while online and mobile platforms would see a tax rate of 12.5% on revenue.

Application fees for any interested businesses wanting to open a sportsbook in Massachusetts would need to pay $100,000 upfront and then $500,000 once approved for a license, totaling $600,000 for each operator, seen as all profit for the economy of Massachusetts through sports betting before the market was to even go live.

There is no mention of a cap on how many mobile sports betting operators would be licensed but a renewal of all licenses is required every five years and an unmentioned renewal fee will apply.

What’s Coming For The Bay State?

This is not the first sports betting bill introduced to the Massachusetts Legislature this session.

However, it is the only proposal on the subject that was brought to the attention of policymakers by Governor Baker himself. It is expected that some form of sports betting will become legal in Massachusetts as rumor has it that it’s been listed as a revenue stream in the 2022 budget proposal.

HD 678 is estimated to generate $35 million annually for the Commonwealth if passed in its current form. But plenty of discussions will be taking place on the bill with the session open until December 31 for all final decisions to be made.

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