Massachusetts governor pushing for casino-based sports betting

Just as policymakers in the US state of Massachusetts were getting to grips with the notion of three new bills promoting sports betting, governor Charlie Baker said he plans to file legislation that would legalise professional sports gambling in the state.

If approved, the bill would enable the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to hand out Category 1 sport betting licences to MGM Springfield (pictured) and Encore Boston Harbor, which opens this year, while Plainridge Park would be eligible for a Category 2 licence, reports CBS Boston.

In a statement, Baker said the plan represents “an opportunity for Massachusetts to invest in local aid while remaining competitive with many other states [that are] pursuing similar regulations.

“Our legislation puts forth a series of common-sense proposals to ensure potential licensees are thoroughly vetted and safeguards are in place to protect against problem gambling and illegal activity,” he said.

The governor’s office estimates the move would add $35m to state coffers in 2020, boosted by an application fee of $100,000 plus further fees of “at least $500,000” that need to be renewed every five years. Licensees would pay tax at 10 per cent, while online betting would be taxed at 12.5 per cent.

The governor’s proposals are similar to those put forward in one of three bills earlier this week, specifically SB903, proposed by senator Brendan Crighton. The other bills came from Massachusetts senators Bruce Tarr and James Welch.

Massachusetts could become a hive of sports betting activity should the proposals make it into law. MGM Resorts currently operates the state’s sole casino in Springfield and there is the Massachusetts State Lottery to consider. Also in the frame is Boston-based daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings.