Massachusetts policy makers have been handed not one, but three new bills to consider from Senators seeking to back the legalization of sports betting in the state. Senators Bruce Tarr, James Welch and Brendan Crighton each submitted their bills this week ahead of a Friday deadline for the introduction of new legislation.
SB 822, introduced by Welch, proposes authorizing category 1 and category 2 gaming licensees to conduct sports wagering including but not limited to accepting onsite wagers and through the use of a mobile or other electronic platform. Offsite mobile or electronic platforms may only be used within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth.
On taxation, Welch submitted in his bill: “A category 1 licensee shall pay a daily tax of 25 per cent on gross gaming revenues. A category 1 licensee or a category 2 licensee shall pay a daily tax of 6.75 per cent on gross sports wagering revenues. A category 2 licensee shall pay a daily tax of 40 per cent on gross gaming revenues. In addition to the tax imposed under subsections (b) and (c), a category 2 licensee shall pay a daily assessment of 9 per cent of its gross gaming revenue to the Race Horse Development Fund.”
Bill SB 908 from Tarr is a more conservative effort that focuses on establishing a ‘Special Commission on Sports Gaming’, the purpose of which will be to consider and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of authorizing sports betting in the Commonwealth. It will also assess potential statutory and regulatory structures and methodologies and tax policy.
In his bill, Tarr noted: “Said commission shall conduct a comprehensive review of sports betting including, but not limited to: economic development, consumer protection, taxation, legal and regulatory structures, burdens and benefits to the commonwealth and any other factors the commission deems relevant.”
Bill SB 903, from Crighton, also gives the green light to terrestrial and mobile sports wagering. Additionally it sets out proposals for licensing fees as well as tax levels. Operators applying to run a sportsbook will pay an initial license fee of $500,000 which will be renewable annually at a cost of $100,000. A registered sports wagering operator will pay a tax of 12.5 per cent gross revenue. The license fee for interactive sports wagering platforms doubles to $1m in Crighton’s bill, renewable annually for $100,000.
Massachusetts could well become a hive of sports wagering activity should any of the above proposals make it onto the statute books. MGM Resorts currently operates the state’s sole casino and there is the Massachusetts State Lottery to consider. It’s very likely that it will seek involvement at some level. Also in the frame is Boston-based DFS operator DraftKings.