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The Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed an amended sports betting bill (H 3977) on Thursday, sending the ever-evolving proposal to the Senate, the second time this has happened in two years.
During the Massachusetts 2020 legislative session, a sports wagering bill that had been included in a proposed economic development plan passed in the House but got delayed by the Senate with lawmakers unhappy with the “message sent” by adding it to the back of an emergency response bill.
This week it took just four days for members of the House committee to introduce and pass through its chamber by a 156-3 vote this version of the bill which clarifies various aspects of how legal sports betting in Massachusetts would look.
For example, H 3977 describes how many apps can launch through partnerships with casinos and tracks (3) and how many licenses would be issued (at least 11) and for how much ($5 million each).
But getting the Senate onboard might not be so easy.
The MA Senate has some different ideas than the House as to how legal sports gambling in the state would look, but its own bill, S 269, which was proposed by Senator Eric Lesser, was voted out of a joint committee earlier in the week.
That means that H 3977 could still face more amendments, changes that would be discussed and decided upon in a conference committee held by various Senate and House lawmakers who have their own suggestions as to how many licenses should be issued and whether professional sports teams should be allowed to purchase one.
Bottom line, the longer the Old Colony State legislators stall on this issue, the more annual revenue the state of Massachusetts stands to lose.
The bill that was just passed allows the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to set emergency rules and issue temporary licenses, steps that could certainly move the launch process forward until all the details and compromises can be worked out.
This could mean big money for the state, with estimates for licensing fees topping the $80 million mark and the predictions for potential tax revenue reaching $60 million, numbers that many lawmakers and industry experts are calling “conservative.”
Representative Jerald Parisella, the House Chair on the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, is confident that as the gambling market matures, those revenue predictions will increase, as well.
As Rep. Dan Cahill is quick to point out, the goal here is to avoid missing out on another NFL season.
I look forward to working with the Senate – because football season’s coming – look forward to working with folks in the other chamber and the governor’s office to get this done forthwith.
Check back here as we keep you posted on the unfolding details of legal sports betting in MA.
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]More info on Mike Lukas
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