Betting fans in the US state of Massachusetts may yet be able to enjoy legal sports betting after a new twist in the ongoing saga of the state’s sports betting bill.
The Massachusetts House of Representatives has now rejected an amended version of the economic development omnibus bill that had been presented to them by the state Senate. Their decision leaves open the possibility of legalised sports betting in the state.
Last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means voted on House Bill H.4879, which contained a variety of measures including proposals to make sports betting legal in person, via mobile and online, along with a range of rules on tax, licensing and regulatory authority. The House passed the bill, with some amendments, including a 30% tax on gross revenue, but this was amended by the Senate, removing the sports betting and online lottery betting sections.
A number of amendments had been put forward by members of the Senate in an attempt to salvage the sports betting element of the Bill, but they failed, which left the future of sports betting in the state looking bleak. But the rejection of the amended Bill by the House of Representatives was an unexpected twist, which leaves the future uncertain.
In an attempt to reach a compromise, a new Committee has been formed, which intends to submit a compromise bill to the Senate and the House, which could yet see sports betting back on the table.
The original bill from the house proposed three licences for sports betting companies. Category 1 license were intended to cover mobile, online and in-person betting, while Category 2 licences applied to racetrack betting and Category 3 to mobile or online betting. Each licence was proposed to cost $250,000 and be applicable for five years, with a renewal fee of $100,000. Licence holders would also be expected to pay a fee based on the number of Massachusetts-related bets they took, which was initially set at 1% of sports wagering receipts, though later amended to 0.25%.
The bill also provided for the creation of a Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which would oversee the award of licences. Among the other amendments approved by the house included a measure to allow the state Lottery Commission to promote lottery ticket sales, though there was also provision for players to self-exclude and to set spending limits. These proposals were also stripped out of the bill by the Senate. It remains to be seen whether a compromise can be found, but sports betting remains on the agenda in Massachusetts.