Sports News

Mass. lawmakers reached a deal on sports betting. Here’s what we know about the details.

Betting on college sports, a sticking point in negotiations, will be allowed (with an important distinction).

MA sports betting
A DraftKings sportsbook in New Jersey in 2018. Wayne Parry/AP File Photo

Though the deadline had technically come and gone, Massachusetts lawmakers reached a deal to legalize sports betting in the early hours on Monday.

Having gone back-and-forth on the issue for over a year, after the House and Senate both passed sports betting bills with major differences, the two were able to sort out differences in conference committee to find a compromise bill (H 5164).

“I am proud to announce that the Sports Betting Conference Committee has reached an agreement on legislation that will legalize wagering on professional and collegiate sports in Massachusetts,” tweeted House speaker Ron Mariano shortly after 5 a.m.

What was agreed to?

Update: The text of the bill has been released, and can be found here.


According to Boston Globe reporter Samantha J. Gross, the deal will include:

  • Professional and college betting, with the exception of in-state schools
  • In-state college betting will be allowed if its part of an NCAA tournament, per Michael Silverman of the Boston Globe
  • A 20% tax rate for online betting, with a 15% tax rate for retail/in-person betting
  • No advertising ban
  • Credit cards can’t be used to fund betting accounts (but debit cards are allowed)
  • Existing in-state slots parlors, casinos, and race tracks will be able to apply for a sports betting license (which includes a $5 million application fee) and partner with two mobile sports betting platforms, according to WBUR
  • In addition, seven mobile sports betting platforms will be available

What needs to happen now?

Technically, the legislature’s self-imposed July 31 deadline expired, but extensions were agreed to, and the last formal session — which began prior to the deadline — was allowed to continue. This allowed for a deal to be reached.

Once the bill emerges from conference committee, it will still need to be formally voted on and pass both the House and Senate. (Update: The House and Senate have “enacted” the bill, and it has passed from both chambers).

The bill now heads to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk, and he will have 10 days to sign it into law. Baker is widely expected to sign it without issue, having indicated at multiple points in the past that he favors legalizing sports betting.

When could Mass. betting begin?

Obviously, it’s all contingent on the final details, including (and especially) Gov. Baker’s signature.

Should the agreement become formal law, it will require the implementation of a new regulatory framework, sportsbook applications being reviewed/approved, and numerous other procedural developments before any actual bets can be placed.

But, according to Mass. Sen. Michael Rodrigues, there’s optimism that sports betting could begin in time for the upcoming football season.

“Hopefully,” he told reporters.


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