State lawmakers reach agreement on sports betting bill

The Bay State is just one step closer to having legal sports betting after a decision that was made early Monday morning by state lawmakers.
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 4:12 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2022 at 4:25 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Bay State is just one step closer to having legal sports betting after a decision that was made early Monday morning by state lawmakers.

Both the Massachusetts Senate and House finally agreed on a compromise bill around 5 a.m. It passed the House, then the Senate by 9 a.m. Now, the legislation heads to Governor Charli Baker’s desk for his signature.

In the early morning hours of Monday, the state legislators agreed on a way to legalize sports betting in the Commonwealth. Baker is expected to sign the bill that passed the House and Senate this morning.

“It’s something that’s going to bring the Commonwealth much needed revenue, especially with these uncertain economic times,” said State Senator John Velis.

One of the biggest debates during negotiations was whether to include college sports in the gambling process. The decision came down to not allowing bets on Massachusetts college teams, unless they are in the playoffs, so you cannot vote on in-state teams in the regular season, but you can if they make a championship run.

“We didn’t exclude the collegiate betting, which I think would’ve had the impact of making folks continue to go to sister states, so I think it’s a good thing and now on to the governor’s desk,” Velis added.

Another major sticking point was the issue of taxes...

“The tax rate ended up being a compromise between the House and the Senate. The Senate wanted a higher number, the House wanted a lower number. The difference was kind of split right in the middle,” Velis explained.

The Senate and House met in the middle with a 20 percent tax on mobile bets and a 15 percent on retail bets. That tax is paid by the operator and not the person placing the bets.

Lawmakers also debated the issue of advertisements and it was decided that a retailer, like DraftKings, could advertise during the games.

MGM Springfield is already prepared to welcome sports betting with a state-of-the-art lounge. Western Mass News stopped by on Monday and received a statement from MGM Springfield President and COO Chris Kelley that read:

“We are thrilled the state legislature reached an agreement to create a safe, regulated and legalized sports betting environment for Bay State residents and look forward to Governor Baker signing the bill. This new industry will allow Massachusetts to repatriate the revenue and jobs currently being lost to neighboring states and the illegal betting market. We look forward to providing local sports fans an immersive, world-class sports watching and betting experience in our sports lounge along with a VIP viewing area within TAP Sports Bar.”

As for a launch date for sports betting in the state, that hasn’t been determined.