Massachusetts Senator Eric Lesser.

  • Massachusetts will likely get legal sports betting in the 2021 session through the sheer number of bills on the subject that have been filed.
  • Governor Charlie Baker has sponsored his own bill to make sports wagering legal for the Commonwealth.
  • Baker’s bill expects legal sports gaming to bring in $35 million annually in revenue.

BOSTON – The state legislature has its pick of Massachusetts sports betting bills in the 2021 session as more and more proposals make their way to the discussion.

Luckily, there is an entire year to talk about each bill that has been filed to make sportsbooks legal in the Commonwealth as the session adjourns on December 31.

However, the sudden uptick in legislation for the pastime has lawmakers believing that 2021 will be the year that Massachusetts sees legal sports betting come to fruition.

Talks In Massachusetts

The current count has nine bills looking to legalize sports wagering in the Bay State. There are eighteen bills in total that touch on the subject of gaming or relate to gambling on sporting events. That is a lot of legalese to get through this session but just like sportsbooks, the legislature has a few favorites that are expected to see passage.

Governor Charlie Baker, who has been advocating for legal sports betting in Massachusetts for some time now, has a proposal of his own that happens to be one of the favored pieces of legislation.

MA HD 678 is the bill that the Governor is sponsoring for legal sports gaming in the Commonwealth. MA SD 2365 is the other hot proposal for sports wagering legalization with its sponsor being Senator Eric Lesser. While each of these bills share the common goal of legalizing sports betting for Massachusetts, they differ in the details.

“The vast majority of people are just looking to have a little bit of fun and bet on their favorite pro sports team in a social way, and we want to make that safe and legal,” said Lesser.

MA SD 2365 would make land-based and mobile sportsbooks legal in Massachusetts. Professional and collegiate wagers would be open for betting to anyone 21 years old or older. A 20% tax on GGR for retail sportsbooks would be enforced with a 25% tax rate on GGR for mobile platforms and DFS operations. Lesser believes the online and mobile aspect of sports gaming is key, especially in an environment where COVID-19 is still very much an issue.

Governor Charlie Baker’s bill, MA HD 678, would also allow for brick-and-mortar sports betting venues as well as mobile applications. A rate of 10% on all GGR from retail locations would be implemented with mobile operators forking over 12.5% on their GGR. A conservative estimate of $35 million in annual revenue has been projected to be seen if Baker’s bill receives passage.

A big difference over MA SD 2365 is that the Governor’s proposal bans collegiate sports betting where Lesser’s bill does not.

The Outlook For Massachusetts

If a sports bettor were to gamble on whether sports betting would become legal in Massachusetts in the 2021 session, they’d likely wager on it happening. Not only are there various bills being proposed including one from Governor Charlie Baker himself, but sports gaming has been included in the next fiscal year budget proposal making it all but a sure thing already.

“We’re going to do our best to get a good quality product that, hopefully, all parties support and makes sense for the Commonwealth,” said Representative Jerald A. Parisella.

The Massachusetts Legislature closes out for the year on December 31 but lawmakers seem adamant to make sports wagering legalization a priority as the once unsure Senate is now allowing traction with legislation regarding the activity.

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