Can the House and Senate Iron Out Their Differences in Regards to the Two Sports Betting Bill in Massachusetts?

Sports Betting

Although the Massachusetts Senate passed its sports betting bill, the needle hasn’t moved. There is only a little chatter regarding the bill because both bills present some major differences moving forward.

What’s One of the Issues With the Bill?

The Senate had approximately ten months to work on and draft its version of the sports betting bill. With the House’s proposal in mind, the Senate decided to draft something completely different. Some of the differences could be ironed out easily, but the others may not be up for negotiation.

Senate Speaker Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano held a joint press conference but didn’t direct most of the attention to the current situation. However, Mariano did state that banning college sports betting would be a dealbreaker for him.

There is no doubt that sports betting would be a lucrative operation, especially in the Bay State. However, banning the opportunity to wager on collegiate sports would generate less revenue for the state. He added;

“I think we have to face the fact they’re leaving half the — a large portion of the betting in the hands of the black market.”

Pushing for Sports Betting in Massachusetts is Harder than Expected

Sen. Patrick O’Connor was the biggest advocate for college sports betting on the Senate floor with three amendments concerning SB 2844. Eventually, he withdrew the three amendments without any more public discussion.

Sen. O’Connor went on to say;

“But for us as a body to not include the college sports industry completely missed the point of what we’re doing today and almost misses half of the revenue as well.”

Before, 69 amendments were introduced to the bill, but only 18 were passed. Many of the potential changes went unheard of. At the end of the debate, the Senate also allowed the bill to pass without a roll call vote.

There are more hurdles to the bill as the clock keeps ticking heading into the summer months. The Senate has most likely taken a page from the New York sports betting market with a much higher tax rate of 35 percent for mobile and 20 percent for retail.

On the other hand, the House has proposed 15 percent for mobile and 12.5 percent for retail. The Senate’s bill also doesn’t allow for promotional deductions, but the House’s version does.

The Senate also allows for fewer licenses to be given out to the operators that could potentially conduct business in the state. The Senate’s version will offer a minimum of nine, while the House’s will offer a minimum of 11.

A Senate amendment to remove prohibitive marketing requirements failed on the floor as well. By imposing those requirements, gambling advertisements during games would be prohibited as well as giveaways and promotions.

What’s the Timeline For Sports Betting in the Bay State?

It’s unknown when both chambers will meet to iron out the differences between both bills. What the public does know is when the formal session will end, which is set for July 31st. An informal session will run through January 2nd, 2023.

As the summer months approach, Massachusetts will be under a lot of pressure as its neighboring states offer sports betting to its residents. The four markets include Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island.