- Massachusetts Sen. Eric Lesser introduces bill calling for legalized sports betting in the state
- Bill would only allow for betting on pro sports along with a 20 percent tax rate on revenues for land-based casinos
- Sen. Lesser estimates legal sports betting could generate $30-$35 million in annual revenue for Massachusetts
Massachusetts is one of the many states in the United States looking to get in on the legal sports betting craze sweeping the country. While a few of Massachusetts’ neighbors have already legalized sports betting, Massachusetts is still in the process of negotiating its legislation.
Massachusetts State Senator Eric Lesser is one of the lawmakers urging the state to bring sports betting into the mainstream. Sen. Lesser has written a bill of his own that he says would successfully generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue for the state. In an online press conference on Monday, Lesser outlined the details of his sports betting bill, which draws inspiration from similar bills in other states.
“If done correctly, the idea here is to bring sports betting into the daylight, legalize it, and, in a real-time way, monitor it so that potential violations or problems can be quickly identified and dealt with.”
Lesser’s bill says that existing land-based casinos and racetracks would be charged a $1 million application fee for sports betting licenses. Massachusetts is currently home to three brick-and-mortar casinos: Encore Boston Harbor, Plainridge Park, and MGM Springfield. Operators without a land-based presence in the state would be required to pay a $2 million application fee in order to obtain a license.
The bill would set the tax rate at 20 percent on the profits of casinos and racetracks with a 25 percent tax on non-casino operators. Lesser said that the tax rate is “moderate” compared to that in other states with legal sports betting.
He estimated that tax revenues generated on an annual basis could be between $30 and $35 million every year. While he acknowledged that the new revenue would not be enough to be a “panacea” for the state’s budget issues, it’s still a good starting point.
Details of Lesser’s Bill
Lesser’s bill would allow for anyone of legal age in Massachusetts to wager in-person or via a mobile device on professional sports. Wagering on college sports and other amateur leagues would not be allowed under this legislation. The Senator claimed that his bill has built-in protections designed to keep the integrity of the games intact while protecting both athletes and bettors.
“It was really a balancing act in which we are trying to encourage as much competition, as many participants as possible, but also making sure that people who are applying for a license are serious about it and have the financial capacity to handle safely this type of betting, to be able to appropriately address risk during this type of betting.”
One way the legislation would help maintain the integrity of the sport is by requiring operators to report,
“abnormal betting activity or patterns of suspicious or illegal wagering activities.”
Other protections include banning gamblers from using credit cards in order to place their bets, which Lesser believes can lead to problem gambling. Some people will also be able to add themselves to self-exclusion lists if they believe they have the potential to become addicted.
The bill would put the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in charge of establishing rules for governing compulsive and problematic gambling.
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