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Next Steps Toward Legalized Online and Retail Sports Betting in Massachusetts
The road to legalized sports betting in Massachusetts has been slow and lengthy, the lawmakers have spent five sessions on the question of sports betting legalization. Today, the Massachusetts state House and Senate reached an agreement on a bill that would legalize online and retail sports betting on professional and some collegiate contests (H 5164). Sports betting on Massachusetts colleges and universities will only be permitted for play in tournaments like March Madness.
Under the bill, Massachusetts’s slot parlors, casinos, and racetracks will be able to obtain sports betting licenses and each casino is permitted to partner with two mobile betting platforms. The state will also grant seven additional stand-alone mobile betting platform licenses. The bill provides that in-person bets are subject to a 15% tax rate, and 20% tax rate for bets placed through mobile platforms. Additionally, Massachusetts bettors will not be allowed to use credit cards to fund their accounts.
The Massachusetts sports betting licenses are subject to a $5,000,000 application fee. The bill declares the state will grant three categories of operational licenses and mentions occupational licenses for those so designated by the Massachusetts gaming commission. However, there is limited to no mention of the specific licensing requirements for sports wagering suppliers and affiliates.
Speaking of affiliates, this bill leaves out a proposal for a strict advertising ban initially set forth by the state’s Senate. In previous bill proposals the Senate called for a “whistle-to-whistle” ban on sportsbook ads during live sporting events. This compromised bill does not include such a strict advertising ban but given the past concerns there is room to believe that advertising may be strictly monitored and leading to the supposition that licenses and/or registrations will likely be required for affiliates in Massachusetts. We will continue to monitor and track the progress of this bill and all regulations regarding sports betting advertising requirements.
The bill will now head to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk, where it is expected to be signed.