On Thursday, the House approved a sports betting bill called the H 3977 with a 153-3 vote. This bill would allow the operations of local sports betting companies in the state of Massachusetts. With this bill, anyone who is at least 21 years of age should be able to place a bet on professional sports, esports, video games, care racing, and even college sports but with limitations as prop bets on college, athletes will not be allowed.
Once this bill passes, Massachusetts will be one of the states that will have legal local sports betting operations in the US. Today, there are already over 20 states that are already regulation local operations of sports betting including states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Rhode Island, and more.
These states pushed for local sports betting after the Supreme Court of the United States have stricken down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. Since then, it was up to the individual states to decide on the fate of sports betting within their territories. For now, states without legal betting operations just yet like Massachusetts could still participate in this activity. The locals could just place their bets within the states with legal betting or on the top betting sites in India or anywhere else offshore.
Taxing Sports Betting in Massachusetts
Just like the other states, Massachusetts also sees an opportunity in earning taxes from this activity. Based on the bill, a 12.5 percent tax will be applied to in-person bets and for mobile bets, there will be a 15 percent tax imposed.
The chair of the Committee on Economic Development, Representative Jerald Parisella, explained that the tax is lower for in-person bets because of the additional expenses that land casinos have. Parisella said, “Also, we hope to drive business to those retail operators because it will have ancillary benefits, economic benefits of job appointment, and also if somebody goes into the casino, they might buy food, they may buy drinks, they may bet on the roulette tables. So, it provides additional economic benefits.”
An expert analysis predicts that more than 80 percent of the bets that will be made in the state will most likely come from mobile platforms. Parisella said that his conservative estimate of how much the state would gain from sports betting taxes is around 60 million USD each year. He also said that as the market matures, they believe that the state could earn more.
What Other Representatives Have to Say
The total votes that the sports betting bill for Massachusetts got were astonishing with 156-3 votes. Representative Andy Vargas of Haverhill explained why he is in favor of having local sports betting in the state.
Rep. Vargas said, “I represent a district which borders New Hampshire. In Haverhill, you can walk across the border into New Hampshire and place a bet. I know that my constituents who partake in sports wagering would rather place these bets in their homes and their state and would rather have any revenue collected going towards benefiting their home state of Massachusetts.”
Meanwhile, Representative Dan Cahill of Lynn had a simpler explanation. He said, “Most important, it’s just fun. People are allowed to have fun and sports betting is fun.”
Now, when it comes to leaving out college betting, House Speaker Ronald Mariano said that it would probably be a deal-breaker. He talked about this before the meeting on Thursday and said, “…I tend to think it probably would be. I find myself having a tough time trying to justify going through all of this to not include probably the main driver of betting in the commonwealth.”
Rep. Parisella also explained that it’s not really about bringing sports betting in the state of Massachusetts as it is already happening in the state. He said, “Some may say that this is bringing sports betting to Massachusetts. The fact is that our Massachusetts residents are already betting on sports. They’re either taking that short drive up to New Hampshire or to Rhode Island, where it’s legal, or they’re also going on their phones and using offshore applications, those sportsbooks, to bet or they’re also going to a bookie.”
Despite the House approval, it’s still hard to say when sports betting will be live in the state if the bill passes the Senate. The bill will also have to be approved and signed by the state governor, Gov. Charlie Baker who is known to be against betting on college sports.