Massachusetts Online Sports Betting – News and Updates on Sports Betting Legislation

Massachusetts is one of the many states looking to move forward with sports betting in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court ruling that it’s up to the states to regulate online sports betting. In July 2021, the House approved H3977, a bill that would legalize sports betting within state lines by an overwhelming margin of 156-3, brining us that much closer to getting your bets in on all your favorite sports.

With Massachusetts’ history with gambling dating back to the 1930s and dog racing, Tribal casinos and plans for commercial casinos, it only makes sense for the state to keep its residents safe from offshore sites by legalizing online and live wagering in the state.

Massachusetts Sports Betting Legislative Landscape

While there have been several sports betting proposals over the past year in Massachusetts, the most recent attempt using H3977, the bill recently approved by the House has the following details. The Governor of Massachusetts seems ready to go when both the House and Senate can agree on the guidelines, as Governor Baker recently said:

“Expanding Massachusetts’ developing gaming industry to include wagering on professional sports is an opportunity for Massachusetts to invest in local aid while remaining competitive with many other states pursuing similar regulations.”

So here is a quick summary of what legal sports betting under the latest proposal would look like moving forward:

  • Sports betting would be offered at all full-fledged casinos and their solitary slots parlors
  • Casinos and slots parlors would be required to operate an onsite sports wagering lounge
  • There is still one more available brick and mortar casino license in the state, and that casino would be able to offer sports betting as well
  • Sports betting license holders would be able to offer online and between 1-3 mobile sports betting skins per licenses.
  • Stand alone online mobile wagering would be available for companies that don’t have a brick and mortar casino license (example: Draftkings and Fanduel)
  • Retail sports wagering would be taxed at 12.5% while online/mobile would be taxed at 15% with an extra 1% additional fee for events happening in Massachusetts
  • An application for a sports betting license would carry a $5 million fee every 5 years after being approved
  • Sports betting would only be offered on professional sporting events. This caveat would exclude all college, amateur and high school sports. This may change as there are estimated that the state would miss out on an estimated $25 million to $35 million by excluding college sports.

PASPA

Sports betting is exploding in the United States ever since PASPA, a 30 year old law that essentially outlawed sports betting in all but a few states, was deemed unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. New Jersey led the fight and was primed and ready to go, launching sports betting almost immediately after the May 2018 Supreme Court decision. Since then, other states including Rhode Island, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Delaware have began taking bets.

Outlook for Sports Betting in Massachusetts

Sports betting in Massachusetts is looking like a real possibility. A strong advantage that Massachusetts has is that its Governor is leading the charge. This means that, unlike other states, we will not have much worry about the bill being vetoed when it reaches his desk. The bill that recently made its way out of the house looks a bit different than the Governor’s proposal but is close enough where we wouldn’t expect any resistance from the Governor’s office seeing as he is excited at the idea of adding sports betting to the ever-growing gaming industry. This is a huge boost to the chances of residents and visitors of the state being able to place wagers on their favorite sporting events in the near future.

Governor Baker has also stated:

“Our legislation puts forth a series of commonsense proposals to ensure potential licensees are thoroughly vetted and safeguards are in place to protect against problem gambling and illegal activity. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the Legislature to pass this bill into law.”

The newest proposal makes it legalizing sports betting easier than other states as it boasts one of the lowest tax rates at 12.5% for live wagering and 15% for mobile betting. The licensing fees are $5 million per license application, and most likely a similar fee every five years after. To put this in perspective, Pennsylvania has a $10 million application fee and a 36% tax rate.

While there has been a domino effect in the US, nothing seems to be more of a motivator than when a state sees a bordering state collecting tax revenue from online gaming and/or sports betting. With Rhode Island accepting its first wagers in November 2018, this will put added pressure on legislators to take action, knowing they are losing revenue when their residents are jumping over the border to Rhode Island to place their sports bets. FanDuel in New Jersey has stated that 14% of their business comes from bettors coming over into the state from bordering states New York and Pennsylvania just to place their bets and returning home before the game starts.

H3977 includes a somewhat unique variable that only a handful of states have done so far. The bill states that it would allow companies that don’t own a brick-and-mortar gaming facility to apply for a sports betting license. This would allow companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings (that are industry leaders in New Jersey, and both call Boston home) to offer mobile betting without needing a casino partner.

The state estimates that the proposal would bring in roughly $70-$80 million just in licensing fees and an additional $60 million annually if college sports are included in much needed revenue annually. The estimate drops to around $25-$35 million if college sports are excluded. This money would go exclusively to the Gaming Commissions local aid fund.

Sports betting in Massachusetts is looking like a real possibility in the next 6-12 months. With Governor backing, realistic tax rate and fees, casinos and industry leaders such as FanDuel and DraftKings on board, all the stars seem to be aligning. Be sure to check back with RotoGrinders for updates on Massachusetts sports betting.

What Online Sportsbooks will be available?

With each license allowing up to 3 online skins (brands) we should see all the big names in the US market making their way to Massachusetts. With FanDuel and DraftKings both calling Massachusetts home, they are likely to be the first to go live, as they have in most other legal US markets. Others that are likely coming are:

Massachusetts Betting History

Massachusetts live gaming industry started way back in 1934 with the opening of Wonderland Greyhound Park and Taunton Dog Track. They were joined in 1941 by Raynham Greyhound track in 1941. Taunton was later closed and operations were combined in Raynham in 1981. However both remaining tracks were later closed in 2009 when dog racing was banned.

The lottery was banned back in 1833, but was brought back in 1973 to give the state some much needed revenue. Eligible non-profit organizations can run certain gambling games for fundraising purposes. These games include bridge, whist, bingo, beano, raffles, pull tabs and casinos nights. As of 2017, the state has reported $57 million in annual gross revenue for charities, with bingo leading the way at $25 million a year.

The first casino opened its doors in June, 2015. Plainridge Park Casino is a harness track racing facility and slot parlor located about 40 miles southwest of Boston. MGM Casino in Springfield opened its doors in 2018 and Encore Boston Harbor is expected to open in 2019. There are plans for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to build a resort casino near Taunton, but due to legal complications, the project may not open in 2019 as planned.

Massachusetts Sports betting FAQs

Is sports betting legal in Massachusetts?

Not yet, but we fully expect sports betting to be legal by the end of 2021 in Massachusetts.

Where will I be able to place sports bets if it does become legal?

The plan is to offer sports betting at the existing states casinos and slots parlor and online/mobile devices.

What sports will I be able to bet on?

The plan will include professional sports only. This means no college/ amateur sports including the olympics.

What types of bets will I be able to place in Massachusetts

If Massachusetts follows the same matrix as other established states like New Jersey and Nevada, you will have a wide array of options such as:

  • Moneyline bets
  • Spread
  • Over/Under
  • Prop bets
  • Parlays

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