Massachusetts revives controversial sports betting integrity fees

Massachusetts' bill includes a controversial 1% integrity fee.
Massachusetts' bill includes a controversial 1% integrity fee.

The debate over proposed integrity fees has resurfaced in Massachusetts following presentation of a bill to legalise sports betting.

US.- The Massachusetts House of Representatives has revived controversy over the inclusion of “integrity” provisions in sports betting legislation.

The House’s version of a bill designed to drive economic recovery through the pandemic includes a proposal to legalise sports betting. But the bill proposes that 1 per cent of gross revenue earned from sports betting on events in the state be handed to the owners of host venues.

Back in May 2018, the US Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, allowing individual states to pass statutes to legalise sports gambling within their own territories.

Venue owners soon began lobbying for states to direct a share of revenue their way, arguing that licensed betting meant they would have to invest in carrying out extra measures to preserve the integrity of the outcomes of games. 

Such calls largely fell on deaf ears, but Massachusetts has revived the idea in the current bill put forward by the House of Representatives.

The New England Patriots, who would benefit from the provision since their stadium is privately owned, have denied having lobbied for inclusion of the integrity fee in the bill.

A spokesman said: “Neither the team nor the league asked for, as suggested, this ‘integrity’ fee. We’re focused more on the fan engagement elements of the bill.”

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