Massachusetts sports betting becomes law as governor signs compromise

Published on: August 11, 2022, 08:16 am.

Last update: 11 August 2022, 08:17.

Sports betting in Massachusetts is officially legal after Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Wednesday signed the legislative compromise reached by the state’s Senate and House late last month.

Massachusetts Sports Betting Charlie Baker
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker celebrates after signing the state’s fiscal year 2023 budget on July 28, 2022. Baker signed the Massachusetts sports betting bill passed by the legislature this week. (Picture: United States News Service)

The U.S. Supreme Court gave states the power to decide their own sports betting laws in a May 2018 decision. But it took Massachusetts lawmakers more than four years to decide how the community would regulate such gambling.

The Senate and state House have passed competing sports betting bills. After the legislative deadlock, a special Sports Betting Conference Committee was formed to resolve the differences. The commission met this goal just as the legislature adjourned to 2022.

Baker, a longtime supporter of legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts and joining more than 30 states that have done so, thanked lawmakers as he signed the resolution into law.

We appreciate the dedication and compromise the Legislature has shown on this issue, and we look forward to supporting the work of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on responsible implementation of the law over the next several months,” the governor said.

Although sports betting is officially legal in Massachusetts, it will be some time before the first permitted bet is placed. The MGC will first have to develop and implement new regulations to govern sports betting, and then review and review sports betting applications before granting such privileges to qualified interests, before the first legal bet can be placed.

College limitation

A major holdup among state senators in accepting a compromise with the House sports betting bill was the issue of college sports.

Many senators expressed concern from university leaders that allowing sportsbooks to bet on collegiate athletics would put college athletes at high risk of being targeted by illegal individuals to throw a game. House leaders said the exact opposite is true, because not including college sports would continue betting on NCAA games with underground bookies, where such criminal behavior is much more likely to occur than in a regulated environment.

The common ground found by the joint legislative committee maintains the ban on college sports betting involving state schools. But sportsbooks will be able to offer odds on all non-Commonwealth college sports as long as the event does not include a Massachusetts college or university.

But there will be opportunities for Boston College fans to place legal bets on the Eagles.

The Massachusetts Sports Betting Compromise allows oddsmakers to include Massachusetts colleges in their lineups during tournaments like NCAA March Madness. The caveat also applies to conference tournaments, but college football games are prohibited outside of the four-team College Football Playoff.

Casinos, racetracks, online

The Massachusetts Sports Betting Act authorizes MGC to issue three categories of licenses.

The state’s three commercial casinos – Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park – each qualify for sports betting rights. The casino will also be allowed to operate online sports betting through a third party partner.

The state’s two horse racing tracks also qualify for in-person sports betting, but do not have mobile privileges. Finally, a third category of sports betting is for completely remote operations. Companies like DraftKings and FanDuel will be able to apply for online sports betting licenses without having to partner with a casino.

Massachusetts will tax in-person sports betting revenue at 12.5% ​​and mobile revenue at 15%.

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