Massachusetts Sports Betting Bill Passes Through the Senate, But There Are More Challenges on the Horizon

Sports Betting

Even though there were differences of opinion regarding the bills passed by the Massachusetts House and Senate, the Senate passed SB 2844, a heavily modified version of HB 3993. The House passed their version nine months ago, so the real push will now begin.

Both Sports Betting Bills Have Major Key Differences

More hurdles will be needed to be sorted out before a bill goes to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk for consideration and to be signed into law. There were 69 amendments that were brought into consideration at the 5 pm deadline on Tuesday, but only 18 were passed.

None of the amendments that were approved highlighted the major differences between both bills. Some experts in the sports betting industry believe that the bill that is headed to the conference committee will eventually run out of steam.

The reason why these experts aren’t optimistic is due to the time constraints to pass the bill, as Gov. Charlie Baker will either pass or veto the bill on Jul. 31. In addition, there could be major disagreements when both chambers resolve their differences, which would mean that bettors in Massachusetts would have to wait until 2023 to place legal wagers.

What Are the Major Differences Between the Two Bills

The Senate killed the amendments that listed the tax rates for retail at 10 percent and 12 percent for online. The House’s bill had the figures at 12.5 percent for retail and 15 percent for mobile. On the other hand, the Senate stood firm at 20 percent for retail and 35 percent for mobile sportsbooks.

Other amendments that failed to be added were the number of sportsbooks that could conduct business in the Bay State once the market launches. The House’s bill gives 11 approved mobile sportsbook licenses, while the Senate’s bill will offer licenses to at least nine online bookmakers.

Another issue is allowing bettors to place wagers on college sports, as there weren’t any discussions of including it in the Senate’s sports betting bill. A proposal by Sen. Patrick O’Connor to allow some form of wagering on college sports, as well as possible wagering on amateur sports and esports, was rejected without further discussion.

If the state bans college sports betting, it would lose revenue that could be up to 25 percent. If that is the case, bettors in the state may use offshore betting sites to get involved.

The only major amendment that was approved was number 68, which strengthened the ban on using credit cards to fund accounts because one could use credit cards to buy sportsbook gift cards or use PayPal.

What’s Next for Massachusetts Sports Betting

Last year, House Speaker Ron Mariano said excluding college betting probably would be a dealbreaker for him. The House is also not expected to accept the Senate’s demands right away.

The formal session ends on Jul. 31, but the legislative session will run through Jan. 2, 2023. The issue is everyone involved doesn’t meet all year round. As of right now, bettors will be crossing state lines to place wagers in neighboring states like Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.