After years of discussions and public debates, Massachusetts is inching closer to finally legalizing wagering. On Thursday, the State Senate voted in approval of the MA sports betting bill. The proposed bill would make it legal for persons aged 21 and over to place bets on sporting events, both in land-based casinos in Massachusetts and on online apps. When the whole process is finalized, Massachusetts will become the 31st state with legal sports betting. States who have already legalized wagering include neighboring New Hampshire, Nueva York, Connecticuty Rhode Island.
MA Sports Betting Bills Now Approved Both in the House and the Senate
The draft of the MA sports betting bill was already passed by the Massachusetts House last year with a 156-3 vote in favor of approval. That version included a provision to allow adults to wager on college sports and use credit cards to place those wagers. However, the bill that was approved by State Senate did not have those details included. In addition, the important elements of the new bill are parts addressing gambling addiction and recovery. The safeguards established in the bill are similar to those that were put in effect in 2011 when the state expanded gaming. The bill also determines the number of licenses to be awarded to legal online sports betting operators. As things stand, 6 companies should receive licenses to provide wagering services, both online and at retail establishments.
Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies
Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, Senator Eric P. Lesser offered some thoughts on the new bill. He said that the bill has taken into consideration numerous factors that should define sports betting in Massachusetts. It should provide strong protections for the consumers but also promote a competitive market where people can enjoy fun and responsible sports betting.
Responsible Sports Gambling
In previous months, Senate President Karen Spilka has taken a lot of heat because of the slow pace the wagering bill was moving at. Among those criticizing the Senate President was House Speaker Ronald Mariano. Still, Spilka noted that the reason for slow progress was a determination to establish consensus on the legislation before bringing it to the Senate floor. As the Thursday voting has shown, it seems that she succeeded in her intention. Senators approved the bill unanimously on a voice vote. This means that there was no individual “yes” or “no” voting.
Significant Benefits for the State of Massachusetts
As for Governor Charlie Baker, he indicates that he signs the bill into law. However, if the House and the Senate and the House can come to a common ground and reconcile their differences. If the law is signed, it would certainly bring many benefits to the State of Massachusetts. Lesser, who’s the author of the bill, estimates that legal sports betting would allow states to rake in significant tax revenue. The current estimates put the total amount of the potential yearly revenue between $35 and $65 million.
Indeed, the bill also indicates that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will be in charge of sports wagering regulations. Also, it approves licenses for the betting operators.