Massachusetts Moves Forward With Sports Betting Built Into Economic Development Legislation

Massachusetts is expected to move forward with sports betting legalization. The state’s House of Representatives aims to expedite sports betting legislation in Massachusetts by including it in bill H.4854, an economic development package. 

The $372 million bill would fund a number of assistance programs in Massachusetts, including job training and child care services alongside grants for schools, businesses, building renovations, and much more. Though some lawmakers have concerns about the bill’s sports betting aspects, it is still expected to pass the House vote. According to Mass Live, the measure will encounter tougher challenges in the State Senate.

Shaping Massachusetts Sports Betting

As it stands, the sports betting provision of the Massachusetts bill would make it the 22nd state (plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico) to legalize sports betting in some form. If the bill passes the House and the Senate, Gov. Charlie Baker will determine whether it becomes law. 

If passed and enacted, H.4854 would place the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in charge of sports betting. The commission already oversees Massachusetts’ casinos. 

Sports betting would provide a much-needed boost to the Massachusetts economy, according to the bill’s proponents. In addition to the economic stimulus, sportsbook revenue could go a long way in offsetting losses related to months-long casino closures in Massachusetts. 

As for the details, the bill would allow anyone 21 or above to place bets at land-based casinos, slots parlors, racetracks, and online. Single-game bets, parlays, live betting, and other wagers would be allowed. 

Massachusetts sports betting licenses would be offered in three different forms. One would allow for online and on-property in-person wagering at casinos. Another would allow in-person betting at horse racing venues, and the final type would authorize online- and digital-only betting. License applicants would be required to pay $250,000 as an application fee. Five years after the license is granted, operators would then be subject to a $100,000 renewal fee, provided they are eligible for a renewal and approved by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. 

Massachusetts Bill Earns Major Support

Last week, sports betting industry leaders voiced their support for the bill.

The Boston Red Sox, MGM Resorts, DraftKings, and FanDuel released a joint statement urging lawmakers to move forward with the legislation. The statement says: “As we confront an economic downturn and budget shortfalls, this is a unique moment for the legislature to act to protect consumers, create jobs, and bring an infusion of tens of millions of dollars in much-needed revenues to the Commonwealth.”

Timing Is Everything

Massachusetts faces a challenge when it comes to passing the bill quickly. July 31 marks the deadline for this two-year legislative sessions. If the economic development bill isn’t approved by the state House and Senate before then, it could become much more difficult to pass. If lawmakers move quickly this week, the bill could spark a significant shift that brings the Commonwealth one step closer towards legal sports betting. 

About the Author

Cole Rush

Cole Rush is a Chicago-based freelance writer in the gambling, media, and entertainment space. His work has been showcased in various gaming industry magazines and online columns. Prior to freelance writing, Cole spent seven years in communications at a gambling and lottery supplier. Cole writes for a number of online and print publications, including The Quill To Live, a book review site.