MA House and Senate Still at Odds Over What Sports Betting Will Look Like

Massachusetts House Senate Still at Odds Over Sports Betting

  • Last week, the MA House Voted Against Granting Senate Changes to Sports Betting Bill
  • Changes to House Bill Include Higher Tax Rate and Reduced Number of Licenses
  • The House and Senate Will Now Seek Compromise Via a Conference Committee

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Last Week, the MA House Voted Against Granting Senate Changes to Sports Betting Bill

Massachusetts is still without legal sports betting, one of the last two New England states (along with Vermont) who have yet to launch that type of market for its gambling residents, the delay coming from a disagreement between chambers about how best to create this market.

Last week, the Massachusetts House decided it did not approve of the changes that the state Senate made to its sports betting bill – H 2993 – and voted against ratifying the upgraded version, with the Senate’s modifications considered dealbreakers for too many House members.

That was the bill that the House approved last year although legislative time ran out as the congressional session ended without the Senate weighing in, that same bill reworked by state Senators back in April, with those new fundamental changes not as popular in the House.

Meanwhile, Codfish State bettors are having to place their sports bets elsewhere, by either using risky unregulated offshore sportsbooks or by driving to a nearby state where that activity has been made legal, as it has in New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

There are several sticking points to this ongoing debate in Massachusetts.

Changes to House Bill Include Higher Tax Rate and Reduced Number of Licenses

The Massachusetts Senate and House have their own ideas of how the legal sports betting market in that state should be taxed, with Senators changing the tax rate from 15% to 35%, an increase that has been deemed unacceptable by House Speaker Ron Mariano.

The other changes that Mariano and other state Representatives resent are the banning of all forms of wagering on college level sports, the reduction of available licenses to nine, and the prohibition of betting ads during broadcasts of sporting events on television.

Those are just some of the 50 suggested amendments that state Senators were considering, all changes that House members feel would adversely affect the overall tax revenue of the operation, money that could reach $35 million annually.

It’s a back and forth tussle between lawmakers that will now go to committee in order to find some way to compromise.

The House and Senate Will Now Seek Compromise Via a Conference Committee

Now the Massachusetts House and Senate are scheduled to meet in a conference committee where the hope is they can see eye to eye on the major issues that divide them: tax rates, ad restrictions, and collegiate betting among others, all sticking points that must be ironed out.

Industry insiders like Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings understand that every week of delay costs the state and sportsbooks millions of dollars in potential revenue, though he remains optimistic that a deal can be done, saying:

“So, with a bill in reconciliation between the House and the Senate in Mass now, we’re preparing to be there on day one. That will be an important event for the business.”

Hopefully Massachusetts lawmakers possess that same level of optimism as they attempt to find common ground with each other, a mission of compromise that is tough to bet against given how lucrative a final agreement could be.

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Mike Lukas

Expert on NFL

Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]