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MA includes betting in economic development package


Lawmakers in Massachusetts are to consider a new economic development package bill that includes a section aimed at legalizing sports wagering in the state.

Sponsored by the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means, H.4879 is an act designed to enable “partnerships for growth” in the state, and sets out a host of proposed measures.

This includes the Massachusetts Sports Wagering Act, which would legalize online, mobile and land-based sports betting in the state.

The Act would make three types of licenses available to operators. A Category 1 license would permit the holder to operate online, mobile and in-person sports betting in Massachusetts.

Category 2 licenses would cover in-person betting at a racetrack within the state, while a Category 3 licenses would permit the operation of sports betting through an approved mobile application and or online.

Licenses would cost $250,000 and run for a period of five years, after which the holder would be required to pay $100,000 to renew the permit for another five years.

Temporary licenses that would allow the holder to begin offering sports betting immediately would also be available, at an initial cost of $50,000. These would only be valid for two years, after which the holder would need to apply for a permanent license.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which would be established under the new Act, would have responsibility for awarding licenses to operators.

In terms of taxation, operators would be required to pay at a rate of 15% of their adjusted gross sports wagering receipts.

License-holders would also need to pay a fee based on the amount of bets taken on sports events that take place at venues inside Massachusetts. This would be set at a rate of 1% of adjusted gross sports wagering receipts on each event and would be collected annually.

These funds would then be distributed to sports venues, for the sole purpose of ensuring sports wagering security and upholding integrity. The Commission would be responsible for overseeing the collection and distribution of funds.

Other key measures in the Act include the Commission setting up a self-exclusion list to allow players to block themselves from betting, with licensed operators required to ensure they do not let them access their platforms or services.

Operators would also be required to establish a monitoring system to keep track of wagers being placed across their platforms and report any suspicious betting activities to the Commission.

Legal sports betting would only be available to consumers aged at least 21, while mobile and online wagering would be permitted anywhere inside the state.

H.4879 is currently awaiting a third reading in the House of Representatives, and if passed would then move to the state Senate.

Last week, it was revealed that the Massachusetts State Lottery suffered a year-on-year decline in revenue and net profit for the 2020 fiscal year, primarily due to the impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Revenue for the 12 months to June 30, 2020, amounted to $5.25bn, a decrease of 4.7% from $5.51bn in the corresponding period in fiscal 2019.