Massachusetts sports betting is running out of time to be legalized

  • Massachusetts is looking to make sports betting legal by introducing a new bill, MA HB 4879 to the House on July 24.
  • House Bill 4879 would make sportsbooks legal in MA for both mobile and retail outlets.
  • The bill comes by way of an economic development package.

BOSTON – Lawmakers are throwing their Hail Mary attempt to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts. Before the session ends this week they have introduced a bill on housing development that would make gambling on sports legal within the documents submitted.

The Massachusetts Legislature adjourns on Friday, pending any special extensions that both the House and Senate would need to agree on first.

House Bill 4879 in the Bay State is similar to what Georgia tried to do at the end of their session when they added sports betting to a traffic bill with GA HB 903. Georgians were unsuccessful in the end with their bill but will Massachusetts share a mirroring fate?

What Is House Bill 4879?

House Bill 4879 calls itself an act that would allow for growth; more notably job opportunities in a post-COVID-19 world where unemployment rates have been higher than they’ve been in some time. Its main headliner is to create jobs by promoting economic development in multiple areas of Massachusetts from housing to legalized sports betting.

If made legal within the next week, MA HB 4879 would have both retail and online/mobile sportsbooks available to gamblers of the Bay State.

Under the rules within the bill, operators would only need to put up a $250,000 fee for a five-year license when applying. After that, they would need to pay $100,000 every five years to renew their license. A general tax of 15% will be applied to adjusted revenues but this does not factor in any special promotions or other profiting that could see further fees placed upon them. Official league data must be used by sportsbooks when listing bets for customers.

Collegiate, professional sports, and esports are all open for wagers. However, prop betting on college events is prohibited. Sports facilities in the state would get 1% of all revenue made by sportsbooks that they must put toward the security and integrity of their games.

Other details clarify that the casinos, racetracks, and already operating Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) platforms would be eligible to obtain a sports betting license.

But DFS operations need to have at least one year of doing business under their belts in Massachusetts before they qualify for a sportsbook license which makes both DraftKings and FanDuel eligible to apply.

What Comes Next?

The Bay State has plenty to mull over within the next week if they want to see a legalized sports betting industry.

“It’s the end of the session and a unique session at that with COVID,” said Representative Aaron Michlewitz.

Washington D.C. has been slow-moving to speak on whether they will be offering additional financial relief to states across the nation who are all in need because of the tremendous effects of the Coronavirus.

This is making places like Massachusetts and Rhode Island sit back and wait when it comes to budget discussions. Legal sports betting could help with the budget and if Massachusetts knew now what Washington was going to do, it could be a swaying factor for the future of House Bill 4879.

If Massachusetts legalizes sports betting, companies like Barstool and Penn National are expected to join their market. The Boston Red Sox were pulling for a legal gambling on sports bill to pass and Governor Charlie Baker has always spoke in favor of the pastime becoming legal.

A hearing in the House is set for Monday. It is expected that MA HB 4879 will pass in the House but may see some opposition in the Senate. Either way, there is only a week left to decide on the matter.

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