Gov. Baker Proposes to Legalize Sports Betting in MA, Big Hit to RI

Thursday, January 17, 2019
GoLocalWorcester Business Team

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker pushes for legalized sports betting in MA
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is planning to file legislation that would allow people in the state to bet on professional sports.

Baker’s proposal would use the existing regulatory structure for gaming licensing in Massachusetts, including enforcement powers of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), the prohibition on wagering by anyone under 21 years of age and penalties for various violations.

“Expanding Massachusetts’ developing gaming industry to include wagering on professional sports is an opportunity for Massachusetts to invest in local aid while remaining competitive with many other states pursuing similar regulations. Our legislation puts forth a series of commonsense proposals to ensure potential licensees are thoroughly vetted and safeguards are in place to protect against problem gambling and illegal activity. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the Legislature to pass this bill into law,” said Baker.

RI is Retooling its Sports Betting Program

Baker's announcement comes just one day after Rhode Island Senate President Dominic Ruggerio announced he is pushing for mobile sports betting.

As GoLocalProv reported, Vendors IGT and Twin River were months late in starting Rhode Island's sports betting program and the budgeted revenue of $23.5 million has been downgraded already once to just $11.5 million and the numbers look like they will continue to fall.

GoLocal’s visits to Twin River’s sports betting venue found small crowds and long lines as the staff was slow in processing bets. The first week’s reported numbers showed it would be difficult to meet the now downgraded $11.5 revenue number for Rhode Island.

Massachusetts' Proposal

Baker’s proposal would authorize the MGC to issue newly-created sport wagering licenses to the current Category 1 resort casino licensees (MGM-Springfield and Encore-Everett) as well as the Category 2 licensee (Plainridge). A current gaming license would be required to operate an onsite sports wagering lounge. 

Opportunities would be extended to a Category 1 licensee should one be approved for Region C in the future.

Additionally, holders of newly-created gaming licenses would be able to provide sports wagering online, or contract with an entity to provide the service. Online sports pool operators would need to be licensed as a gaming vendor and the agreement would need to be approved by the MGC.

Charlie Baker
“Over the last seven years, the Massachusetts gaming industry has grown into an economic driver for thousands of jobs associated with construction, hospitality, and tourism. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has developed a comprehensive set of regulations and passing this bill into law will allow the proper oversight of the industry’s next chapter in addition to providing critical support to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.

The application fee for an initial license would be set at $100,000 under this proposal with the funds dedicated to supporting the MGC’s administration of the application process.

Once approved, an applicant will pay a licensing fee of not less than $500,000 that will need to be renewed every five years. In person sports wagering licensees would pay a tax rate of 10% and online wagering licensees would pay a rate of 12.5%.

The revenue generated from renewals, in person and online wagering would exclusively go to the Gaming Local Aid Fund to finance local aid distributions, mirroring the current system for directing revenue from the Category 2 licensee. To level the playing field, a 12.5% tax rate would also be applied to daily fantasy sports contests which are currently untaxed.

The administration anticipates this proposal would generate $35 million in revenue in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2020 that will benefit all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth.


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