Let the betting begin – in a number of months
Baker signs sports betting into law
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER on Wednesday signed a law legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts, joining more than 30 other states that have authorized sports betting since the US Supreme Court overturned a federal ban in 2018.
“Our administration first filed legislation to legalize sports wagering in the Commonwealth several years ago, and I am glad to be able to sign this bill into law today,” Baker said in a statement. “We appreciate the dedication and compromise that the Legislature demonstrated on this issue, and we look forward to supporting the work of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on the responsible implementation of the law over the next several months.”
Sen. Eric Lesser, a Longmeadow Democrat and Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, celebrated the fact that, after a four-year process, sports betting is finally legal.
“This new law will give residents new ways to engage with sports, generate new jobs and investment, and includes some of the strongest consumer and player safeguards in the country,” Lesser said in a statement.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said in a statement that the commission has been monitoring legislation and preparing for sports betting for years. “As soon as this week we will be working to understand the landscape of interest in operator licensure as we move forward with this process,” she said. “We are committed to ensuring the integrity of sports wagering in the Commonwealth and are looking forward to engaging stakeholders in an inclusive and transparent process.”
Gaming Commission Executive Director Karen Wells said the work the team has already done includes identifying over 200 potential regulations, adopting a framework to use industry-recognized technical standards, establishing an infrastructure to investigate and license applicants, initiating the hiring of a Chief of Sports Wagering, and scheduling public meetings. “Now that we have a law that defines our responsibilities as regulator, we will work with our stakeholders to swiftly stand up this new industry with a focus on integrity, player safety, and consumer protection,” Wells said.
Under the new law, sports betting will be allowed at the state’s three casinos, at horse racing or simulcast racing tracks, and online through digital or mobile apps. The Gaming Commission will issue the licenses, which come with hefty fees ($5 million every five years), background checks, and other requirements.
The bill legalizes sports betting on professional and most college games, but not on games that include a Massachusetts college team, other than in a collegiate tournament. Placing wagers on the performance of individual college athletes will not be allowed.
The bill includes a number of consumer protection and public safety safeguards, such as restrictions on the type of advertising that can be run, a ban on the use of athletes’ biometric data, provisions to address problem gaming, and rules governing investigations of improper behavior. Betting will only be allowed for adults 21 and older.Sports betting will be taxed at a rate of 15 percent of gross receipts from in-person sports betting and 20 percent from digital or mobile betting. The bill is expected to bring in somewhere around $30 million or $35 million a year in tax revenue.
Money obtained from the industry through fines and fees will be distributed to the state’s general fund, local aid, a workforce investment trust fund, a youth development and achievement fund, and a public health trust fund, with the biggest chunks going to the general fund and local aid.