Massachusetts legislation

  • The Massachusetts legislative session deadline is incoming leading many to doubt the sports betting will pass.
  • Local casino execs have reached out to lawmakers via a letter, urging them to pass sports betting.
  • Both Governor Charlie Baker and House Speaker Ron Mariano doubt that the bill will pass in time.

BOSTON – The earlier hopes for a regulated sports betting market launching in Massachusetts have begun to subside as the season deadline, Sunday, comes closer.

Both Gov. Charlie Baker and House Speaker Ron Mariano have spoken publicly about their doubts surrounding the bill passing in time.

Local casino executives have begun urging lawmakers to pass legislation before the Sunday deadline. A last-minute vote could potentially see things advance.

Massachusetts Betting Bill On The Ropes

The bill in question would be a compromise between two separate bills that passed in the House and Senate respectively. HB 3993 initially passed in the House, but following all the changes made by the Senate it became S 2844.

The Senate changed the retail tax rate from 12.5% to 20%, the online sportsbook tax rate from 15% to 35%, and decreased the total allowed online licenses from 11 to 9.

A major point of contention between both branches is the inclusion of college betting. The initial House bill allowed for college betting but this was removed by the Senate during their amendments.

With neither branch seemingly willing to compromise on these points, the likelihood of a bill passing in both by Sunday is very slim.

“You know, it’s hard to tell at the end of session sort of what is or what isn’t going to get through the gate at the end,” said Baker. “It is certainly on the minds of people in the Legislature … People are asking questions about it — people are still discussing it.”

Strong Push For Betting

Despite the drawbacks, there is a strong push for compromise to be made and for betting to pass this year. Senate President Karen Spilka has publicly urged lawmakers to compromise.

Sen. Spilka is opposed to Massachusetts college sports betting and is looking for the House to move on from trying to include the practice or refusing to pass legislation at all.

“We have heard from every single college president and all the athletic directors begging us to not include college betting in these bills, that it is not a good thing,” said Spilka.”These presidents and athletic directors know their students, so that’s why in our Senate version of the bill, we did not allow college, but we allowed all other sports betting. We need to take a look at the whole bill, and we could have sports betting sooner rather than later.”

Many local casino executives also chimed in on the issue. Via a letter to officials, these executives urged lawmakers to compromise and pass betting this year, citing tax dollars being sent to other states as the main persuasion.

While a last-minute bill passing could occur, lawmakers are running out of time to make it happen.

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