Massachusetts Governor Proposes Sports Betting Legalization

Massachuetts state house
The governor of Massachusetts is introducing legislation for legal sports betting.

30 second summary

  • Governor Charlie Baker has introduced a bill to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts
  • The bill would allow licensed casinos to take part along with online platforms
  • Gamblers would be limited to wagering on professional sports only
  • College and high school sports, plus esports will be excluded

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has announced plans to legalize sports betting in the state. The recently released proposal details how licensing would take place. The legislation includes who can be involved as well as taxes on wagering.

Baker made his announcement just one day before he is set to appear before the state’s Municipal Association. During an annual meeting, the governor will be detailing his annual budget proposal. The budget plans will include information on how local aid funding will be distributed to cities and towns in the state.

New revenue source

With sports betting legalized, the state would have a new revenue source. The bill has earmarked an estimate of $35m (€30.7m) in new revenues for local aid in fiscal year 2020. Revenues for the state would come from licensing fees as well as taxes.

License applicants would have an initial application fee of $100,000 (€87,771). After being approved, the license holder would need to pay an additional $500,000 (€438,856) every five years to renew their license.

In-person wagering will be taxed at 10%. Online wagering has a slightly higher tax percentage of 12.5%.

Under the bill, existing casinos and slots parlors would be eligible to apply for sports betting licenses. Facilities can operate lounges that will be used for sports betting. Such operators can also sign deals with outside vendors to operate online.

In the bill, Baker also included language to allow online-only operators to apply. Companies such as DraftKings would be able to apply for licensing to host online betting options.

Baker said: “Expanding Massachusetts’ developing gaming industry to include wagering on professional sports is an opportunity for Massachusetts to invest in local aid while remaining competitive with many other states pursuing similar regulations.”

Modeled on New Jersey

Baker admitted that he modeled the bill on New Jersey’s sports betting industry. New Jersey has seen great success with online and land-based sports betting since launching just a few months ago.

Between its June launch and December 2018, New Jersey’s mobile sports betting industry has flourished. That sector brought in 63% of the more than $1.2bn (€1bn) wagered from the overall sports betting industry. DraftKings was a major contributor, bringing in 32% of the total revenues for the state.

Players want to be able to bet on their favorite teams and sports online, which is why Baker added the online option to his proposal.

The bill appoints the Massachusetts Gaming Commission as the overseer of the new industry. The commission would be in charge of vetting applicants for licensing and enforcing consumer protections. Players must be 21 years of age to take part.

The proposal also limits wagering to professional sports only. College and high school sports, along with esports will be excluded from wagering.