Massachusetts governor signs sports betting bill into law

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is moving forward with draft regulations.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is moving forward with draft regulations.

Massachusetts becomes the 36th state in the US to legalise sports betting after Charlie Baker signed House Bill 5164 into law.

US.- Sports betting is legal in Massachusetts after governor Charlie Baker signed House Bill 5164 into law. The state legislature passed the bill last week in the final hours of this year’s legislative session, ending weeks of negotiations between the House and Senate. Massachusetts is the 36th state in the US to legalise sports betting.

Baker said in a statement: “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.

“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.”

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is moving forward with draft regulations and is due to meet prospective licensees in the next month. The gaming regulator warned that creating the full rules for sports betting operators would take at least a few months and couldn’t specify a timeline for the start of legal betting.

MGC chair Cathy Judd-Stein said: “On behalf of my fellow commissioners and the staff of the MGC, we appreciate the confidence the Legislature and the Governor have in naming us as regulator of this new industry.

“For the past several years, we have been monitoring sports wagering legislation and taking appropriate steps to prepare for our potential role. 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.”

MGC executive director Karen Wells added: “As the chair has mentioned publicly, a great deal of work has already been done by our team in anticipation of sports wagering becoming legal in Massachusetts.

“This includes identifying over 200 potential regulations, adopting a framework to utilise industry-recognised 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.”

House Bill 5164 will allow any operator of a land-based casino or racetrack in the state to apply for a licence, while an additional seven online-only licences will be made available. Every licence comes with a $5m fee.

The 50-page bill says wagers placed at retail locations, such as casinos, will be taxed at 15 per cent and mobile bets will be taxed at 20 per cent. People will be able to bet on college sports but only on games that do not include Massachusetts schools unless the teams are taking part in a collegiate tournament like March Madness. Bettors must be 21 and will not be able to use a credit card to place bets. 

See also: Massachusetts is the US state that buys most lottery tickets, study finds

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