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Massachusetts Making Effort to Approve Sports Betting

Massachusetts is starting to heat back up talks to gambling. They may not only legalize sports gambling, but the state may eventually become a new hot spot for online sports wagering.

In early 2019, Governor Charlie Baker had proposed a bill that would allow Massachusetts to be the second state in the nation (right behind Tennessee) to allow online sports wagering that is not affiliated with a land-based casino.

Since Boston has a huge market of sports betting, and one of the most popular online sports betting sites out there with DraftKings being born and still headquartered in Massachusetts, it made sense to have this bill gain traction.

What This Picture First Looked Like

First off, unlike most bills that generally lead to legalizing sports gambling, Baker’s proposal had at first banned any of the bets attempted to be placed on NCAA sporting events. At the moment, New Jersey is the only state that restricts betting on NCAA events, and that is somewhat a lighter restriction because it is only on teams from the state or events taking place within its borders.

This bill would attempt to allow residents from anywhere in the state to be able to bet from their smartphones or to place live wagers at the recently opened casino MGM-Springfield. The massive Encore-Boston Harbor just opened outside of downtown Boston in Everett in July of 2019, thanks to the approval by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC).

What The Bill Includes

Baker has also pointed out that Massachusetts was using New Jersey‘s legislation process as a guideline, which is great news because that likely leads to full online sports betting. Indeed, this current bill that is in the Massachusetts House of Representatives (H.4559) allows up to five online-only operators.

Key features of what the bill is highlighting here are as follows:

* This one has been back and forth, so until the bill is fully passed, this was the current attempt — The bill will make it legal to bet on college sports, but not on in-play college prop bets.

* Betting on any minor athletes or any high school sports are prohibited.

* eSports betting will not be allowed for this bill, and also not included is betting on the Olympics.

* The tax rate has two different methods; one will be 10% on in-person handles, and the other is 12% for online/mobile.

The Odds It Happens This Year

There is still plenty of time if Massachusetts wants to keep pushing forward. The state has, in their favor, one of the later ends of its legislative sessions. Many states end theirs sometime between March and May, Massachusetts’ end date for this is July 31, 2020.

Taking into account the optimistic support from Governor Baker, reports from other sources out of the state, the support from DraftKings and other Massachusetts-based betting companies, it appears that it is not if it will happen but a matter of when sports betting will find its way to the state. It appears to be fully dependent upon the fallout of this pandemic.

Final Thoughts

This bill seems to be heading in the right direction. It has the backing of the Governor, a strong origin from the Massachusetts area in DraftKings, and a huge market to propel this into effect.

As noted above, the bill appears to have a hiccup from the ongoing pandemic. Once the pandemic passes and the economy begins to really come back, I believe you will see this get passed very soon. In fact, if the doors opened today, I would bet that the bill would be completely passed by the next week, pending any other changes.

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