- Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker touted the Celtics Game 1 NBA finals win as a reason to legalize sports betting in the state
- The House and Senate are currently working through differences to pass a sports betting bill
- Proposed bill will legalize online and retail sports betting, but lawmakers differ on tax rate, collegiate sports betting, and license numbers
A Boston Celtics NBA Finals run may be the jumpstart Massachusetts sports betting needs to be approved.
After the Celtics Game 1 win over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) touted the need for sports betting in the state to drive customers away from the unregulated black market, as reported by Mass Live.
Lawmakers Looking for Sports Betting Compromise
The Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate are both currently trying to work through sports betting differences in a conference committee.
Baker has been a longtime proponent of sports betting and actually introduced his own sports betting bill last year.
“There are a lot of people who literally just drive out of Massachusetts so that they can bet on sports, and it’s happening all over the country,” Baker said, according to Mass Live. “And without a legal way to do this, it’s a little bit like the marijuana issue. You just leave the black market there, and you don’t sort of bring it out of the shadows and make it part of the regular crime. I think we should do that.”
No word on if Baker changed his tune after the Celtics Game 2 loss last night, which shifted the NBA Championship odds back to favor the Golden State Warriors.
Is Massachusetts Sports Betting Possible This Year?
The House and Senate have both passed their own Massachusetts sports betting bills and both pieces of legislation have stark differences in how the legislative bodies envision sports betting in the commonwealth. Differences in tax rates, number of sports betting licenses, and what events can be bet on need to be agreed on before a bill can be passed.
The House of Representatives appointed Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-3rd Suffolk), Rep. David Muradian (R-9th Worcester), and Rep. Jerald Parisella (D-6th Essex) to represent their interests in the conference committee.
The Senate appointed Sens Eric P. Lesser (D-1st Hampden and Hampshire), Patrick O’Connor (R-Plymouth and Norfolk), and Michael Rodrigues (D-1st Bristol and Plymouth).
Both the Senate and House will have to pass identical versions of a sports betting bill before it finds its way to Gov. Baker’s desk for approval.
Key Sports Betting Differences
The House and Senate approved sports betting bills both have key differences that may make a compromise difficult.
The Senate approved bill sets its retail sports betting tax rate at 20% and the online sports betting tax rate at 35%, the bill allows for sports bets to be funded by debit cards or digital payment, but does not allow for credit cards to fund bets. The bill also does not allow college sports betting and also imposes some of the strictest restrictions marketing and advertising in the country. The law would not allow televised sports events in Massachusetts to air sports betting advertisements or broadcasts to mention sports betting sponsorships on air.
The House approved bill calls for much lower rates, with online sports betting at 15% and retail sports betting at 12.5%, and also allows collegiate sports betting. It features much less restrictive advertising and marketing rules and allows sports bettors to fund bets with a credit card.
The Senate bill allows for nine sports betting licenses, one for each brick-and-mortar casino in the state, and six untethered online sports betting licenses. The House bill allows each of the state casinos a sports betting license and up to three online sports betting skins. It also allows one license per state racetracks (the Senate bill does not) and one online sports betting skin. Finally, it allows for unlimited untethered online sports betting licenses, as long as they are approved by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.