Massachusetts House Passes Legislation Authorizing Sports Betting

The Massachusetts House of Representatives today passed legislation authorizing and regulating sports betting in the Commonwealth. The legislation authorizes the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to grant in-person licenses at gaming establishments, including casinos, racetracks and simulcast facilities, as well as mobile licenses through mobile applications or digital platforms. This legislation will generate an estimated $60 million in annual tax revenue for Massachusetts, in addition to collecting up to $70 to $80 million in initial licensing fees, which must be renewed every five years. The revenue collected will be distributed to municipalities, and for economic, workforce, education, and public health priorities.

“Massachusetts has the opportunity to generate job opportunities and bring millions of tax dollars annually by legalizing an industry that already exists, but in the black market and other states,” said Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “Once again, the House of Representatives has passed legislation that would make our state competitive in this industry in which dozens of states have already gotten a head start. I thank Chairs Michlewitz and Parisella for their work in making this important piece of legislation happen, and all our colleagues in the House for their work in the final product.”

“This legislation will provide much needed economic development to the state while allowing our residents to enjoy sports betting right here in the Commonwealth,” said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston). “A significant portion of the revenue generated from this bill will go towards helping low-income communities and vulnerable youth and young adults get the skills and opportunities they need to get stable employment and wage growth. Our cities and towns will also see a significant amount of this revenue, as will after school and out of school activities among others”.

 “Massachusetts residents are passionate about their sports. This bill will allow residents to bet on their favorite teams, but do so in a regulated manner that promotes responsible gaming, while bringing in revenue to the Commonwealth that is currently going to our neighboring states or to illegal online operators and bookies,” said Representative Jerry Parisella, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies (D-Beverly). “This legislation was drafted after reviewing laws in other states, speaking with experts in the industry and takes the best practices and incorporates them into this legislation.”

 “An Act regulating sports wagering” (H. 3977) includes a 12.5 percent tax on in-person wagering and a 15 percent tax on mobile wagering, with an additional 1 percent for games played in Massachusetts going to a fund that will then be distributed to each facility for the purpose of sports wagering security and integrity.

The legislation creates the Workforce Investment Trust Fund, the Youth Development and Achievement Fund and the Players Benevolence Fund, which will receive 40 percent, 20 percent, and 1 percent, respectively, of the revenue generated by the taxes and licensing fees. The rest of the funds will go to the existing Gaming Local Aid Fund (33 percent) and the Public Health Trust Fund (6 percent).

  • The funds in the Workforce Investment Trust Fund will be used to develop and strengthen workforce opportunities for low-income communities and vulnerable youth and young adults, including to promote stable employment and wage growth.
  • The funds in the Youth Development and Achievement Fund will provide financial assistance to students enrolled in and pursuing a program of higher education, and for after school and out of school activities.
  • The Players’ Benevolence Fund will recommend to the Gaming Commission a schedule for the distribution of funds that benefit current and former professional sports players or their charitable foundations.

The legislation will also allow betting on college sports, but not wagers on the performance of individual college athletes, and betting on eSports. People must be 21 years old or older to bet. As directed through this legislation, the Gaming Commission will be conducting a study into the feasibility of allowing retail locations to operate sports wagering kiosks. An amendment offered by Representative Orlando Ramos (D-Springfield) expands the focus of the study to include the potential economic impact of retail licenses on communities of color, as well as a larger study on ways to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion are considered in this rapidly expanding industry.

The bill passed the House of Representatives with a 156-3 vote. It now goes to the Senate.