Massachusetts Sports Betting Bill Approved in 11th Hour, Gov. Baker Expected to Sign Into Law

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Massachusetts sports betting bill on its way to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk (Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald via AP, Pool)

A Massachusetts sports betting agreement has been reached by state lawmakers on Beacon Hill, putting legal sportsbooks on a path to launch in the Bay State after more than a year of negotiation. 

The agreement was announced Monday around 5 a.m. in a tweet from House Speaker Ron Mariano, with his chamber accepting the deal before sunrise. The top House official had expressed uncertainty in recent weeks about whether a deal could be reached.

A final vote on the agreement was taken around 9 a.m. in the Senate, which voted 36-4 to accept a conference committee report that included the deal.

Procedural votes in both chambers were taken around midnight on July 31 – the scheduled last day of the formal legislative session –  to allow voting on sports betting and other issues into early morning today.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to sign the bill into law. 

Collegiate Sports Betting Issue Resolved

Betting on collegiate sports was reportedly the top obstacle in reaching a final agreement. Politico reporter Lisa Kashinsky reported this morning that negotiators were able to reach an agreement to allow collegiate sports betting in Massachusetts, although betting on games involving in-state college teams will be allowed only during tournament play. 

The House had included collegiate sports in its sports betting bill in 2021. The Senate, however, stripped collegiate sports betting from that bill when it amended and passed it in April of this year. 

Allows In-Person and Mobile Sports Betting 

In simplest terms, the bill is expected to allow betting on professional sports and amateur sports through licensed casinos, horse racetracks, and mobile sportsbooks.

Casinos and tracks are eligible to be licensed to offer in-person and mobile sports betting. Casinos receive access to two mobile skins (apps), while racetracks get one.

The bill also calls for up to seven mobile sportsbooks to be licensed separately.

Revenues from retail sports betting will be taxed at 15%, while mobile/online bets will be taxed at 20%.

Launch Date To Be Determined

A launch date for Massachusetts legal sports betting has yet to be determined. 

Lead regulators at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission say they expect to be ready to get legal sports betting up and running in the commonwealth “nimbly,” although no timetable is set. 

“We feel really confident that with all the due diligence we’re doing … we’d be able to get those regulations in place nimbly and we’d be able to start issuing licenses (to) start accepting sports bets,” Massachusetts Gaming Commission chairperson Cathy Judd-Stein was reported as saying last spring in an April 13 story in the Boston Herald. 

This is a developing story. It will be updated as more information becomes available. 

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Writer and Contributor
Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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