Massachusetts lawmakers running out of time to legalise sports betting this year

A final agreement between the two chambers appears to be stuck on key points.
A final agreement between the two chambers appears to be stuck on key points.

Legislators have until July 1 to bridge the differences between the Senate and House bills.

US.- Legislators in Massachusetts are running out of time to bridge the two houses’ differences on sports betting before the current session ends on July 31. A joint committee began working last month to try to find a sports betting bill that both chambers can agree on after the Massachusetts Senate and the Massachusetts House of Representatives each passed different sports betting bills.

Apparently, a final agreement is stuck on several key points, including the legalisation of collegiate sports betting. The bill passed by the Senate includes a prohibition on wagers on collegiate athletes. 

Senate president Karen Spilka has vowed that her chamber would take a roll call vote on the bill aligning Massachusetts with neighbouring gaming states, which includes Connecticut and New Hampshire. Spilka revealed she would vote in favor of the bill.

According to MassLive, Spilka said: “I know the conference committee is working on that, too. We have, what, six or eight conference committees going on? It would be wonderful to resolve all of them. I’m hopeful.”

Besides collegiate wagering, the Senate bill would also forbid “advertising, marketing and branding through certain identified promotional items that, as determined by the commission, tend to increase the likelihood of problem gambling, which may include giveaways, coupons or promotional gaming credits”.

It would also ban marketing during a live sporting event and would only allow online marketing if 85 per cent of the audience “is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older”.

Another major difference is the tax rate. The House bill proposes a 15 per cent tax on mobile wagering and a 12.5 per cent tax on retail wagering activities. The Senate’s proposing a 20 per cent tax on retail betting and 35 per cent on mobile betting.

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker has already indicated willingness to sign a bill if the two houses manage to reach an agreement. He has long supported sports gaming legalisation. According to some estimates, legal sports betting could bring an additional $35m in revenue to Massachusetts.

See also: Massachusetts casinos report revenue of $93m for June

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