Massachusetts Legislature Passes Sports Betting Legalization Bill at the Last Minute

  • Both retail and online sports betting will be allowed
  • The next step is for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to sign the bill into law
  • Casinos and racetracks can get licenses, with seven untethered online licenses also available
  • It is unclear as to when exactly sportsbooks might be able to launch in Massachusetts
Back of the Fenway Park scoreboard
Massachusetts lawmakers agreed on a sports betting legalization bill in the final moments of the 2022 legislative session. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Crossed the finish line

Legal sports betting is coming to Massachusetts, as lawmakers came to a compromise on a sports betting legalization bill in the final hours of the state’s 2022 legislative session. House Speaker Ron Mariano announced the news on Monday at 5:10am local time. The six-person conference committee finally came to an agreement following almost eight weeks of meetings.

betting will be allowed on college sports

The final version of House Bill 5164 (HB5164) legalizes both retail and online sports betting. Betting will be allowed on college sports, something that was one of the main areas of contention, but bettors will not be able to place wagers on games involving Massachusetts colleges, except when they take part in tournaments.

The next step is for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to sign the bill into law. He previously said that he would support legal sports betting, so this step seems to be inevitable.

Reaching a compromise

The Senate and House had not seen eye to eye on certain aspects of the sports betting bill, which led to extensive negotiations. The six people on the conference committee managed to come to a final agreement shortly after the midnight deadline. There will be a 15% tax rate on retail sports betting revenue, rising to 20% for online betting. The three commercial casinos in Massachusetts and the two racetracks will be able to apply for licenses.

licenses will cost $5m and will be active for five years

The casinos can get up to two skins for online sports betting, while racetracks can only have one. The licenses will cost $5m and will be active for five years. There will also be seven online sports betting licenses up for grabs that are not linked to any racetrack or casino. While there are no marketing restrictions for sportsbook operators, people will not be able to use credit cards to add funds to their accounts.

The bill also will see the creation of a Public Health Trust Fund. Nine percent of all sports betting-related tax revenue will go into the fund and each online sportsbook operator will have to contribute $1m each year. The funds will go towards studies relating to the impact of sports betting on the likes of young people, college sports, and problem gambling.

No clear timeline to launch

While Massachusetts lawmakers have agreed on a final sports betting legalization bill, it is unclear as to when sportsbooks might be able to open in the Commonwealth State. With the NFL season fast approaching, it looks highly unlikely that sportsbooks will be up and running by then.

The governor still needs to sign the bill into law, the specific rules and regulations need to be finalized, and the licensing process must be created and completed. On average, a state needs eight months after legalizing sports betting before sportsbooks open.