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Massachusetts Sports Betting Deadline Draws Near

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Jul 20, 2022 · 7:46 AM PDT

Trevor Story running, Boston Red Sox
May 7, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story (10) runs to third base on Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) (not pictured) RBI double against the Chicago White Sox during the fifth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
  • Time is running out on the Massachusetts legislative session, which ends on July 31
  • Little information has leaked from a conference committee negotiating a sports betting bill
  • College sports betting, tax rates remain largest impasse between House and Senate

It’s been five weeks of closed-door negotiations for Massachusetts sports betting with no word on the potential of an agreement being made before the state’s July 31 legislative deadline.

With just 12 days left, time is dwindling on Massachusetts’ sports betting chances for yet another year.

Sparse Info From Sports Betting Conference Committee

The six-member conference committee currently negotiating sports betting has been tight lipped about any potential progress on a compromised bill. In early July,  Rep. Jerald Parisella (D-6th Essex) said at the annual National Council of Legislators from Gaming States meeting in Boston he is “hopeful” an agreement will be reached on a Massachusetts sports betting bill before the month is out.

That’s about as open as any of the committee members have been during the process.

Parisella, along with Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-3rd Suffolk) and Rep. David Muradian (R-9th Worcester), have been embroiled in discussion with Sens Eric P. Lesser (D-1st Hampden and Hampshire), Patrick O’Connor (R-Plymouth and Norfolk), and Michael Rodrigues (D-1st Bristol and Plymouth) since early June.

Katie Lannan, a GBH News politics reporter, recently spoke on the network about the state’s sports betting chances and how far apart the House and Senate bills are on this issue.

“A while ago, Speaker Mariano, when we asked him where things were he said that both sides were going to have to be willing to move to get to a deal. We don’t know how much they might have moved at this point. One of the big sticking points is around college sports betting, whether or not to authorize that, there are also different tax rates and consumer protection measures at play here. There’s a lot of parts that need to be ironed out,” she said.

If a compromise can be reached, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has said he will sign a sports betting bill into law. This could set the state up to potentially launch sometime in late 2022 or early 2023.

Key Differences Remain

College sports betting and proposed tax rates have always been at the crux of the disagreement between the Massachusetts House and Senate proposed sports betting plans.

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 on 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.

We should know more about the conference committee’s progress as we get closer to the end of July.

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