Lawmakers Make Late-Night Deal To Legalize Sports Betting In Massachusetts

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on August 1, 2022Last Updated on August 12, 2022
Massachusetts passes a bill that could make it competitive for US online gambling.

It’s another big win for the US online gambling industry. After a lengthy debate that lasted into the early hours of Monday, Aug. 1, state lawmakers reached an agreement on a bill legalizing Massachusetts sports bettingThe bill was finally signed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Aug. 10.

State Rep. David Muradian said lawmakers added an emergency preamble to allow the law to take effect immediately upon signing

Muradian anticipates MA sports betting to be up and running by the middle of the 2022 NFL season.

Big win for US online gambling industry, Boston sports betting fans

Massachusetts is a large state with a population of nearly 7 million. And it is home to some major sports teams, including the Red Sox, Boston Celtics and multi-Super Bowl champs the New England Patriots.

There is a gambling presence via the retail casinos in Massachusetts. However, the state has been losing potential revenue to some neighboring states including NY, which legalized online sports betting in January.

The critical question many visitors and residents will be wondering is: who can participate in MA online sports betting?

Per the legislation, five gaming properties can have physical sportsbooks:

  • MGM Springfield (casino)
  • Encore Boston Harbor (casino)
  • Plainridge Park (casino)
  • Suffolk Downs (simulcast)
  • Raynham Park (simulcast)

The three casinos can each offer two Massachusetts mobile sports betting apps, while the two simulcast facilities may offer one betting app. 

Seven online sportsbooks will be allowed to operate without physical location ties. 

Muradian told PlayMA:

“For too long, Massachusetts has been losing out on millions of dollars in revenue to surrounding states that have approved legalized sports betting, despite widespread support to allow for this type of wagering. It took some time to work out the details and reach an agreement, but the end result is landmark legislation that protects the athlete and the consumer, while at the same time infusing our economy with an exciting new industry.”

While the bill does allow betting on esports, there is no mention of legalizing MA online casino games. 

Licensing, tax structure for sports betting in MA

A majority of the structure of the Massachusetts bill is similar to other jurisdictions. The state will allow wagering on college sports but not on in-state college teams, the exception being unless in-state schools are involved in a collegiate tournament like the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament. 

There will be a 20% tax rate for online sports betting and a 15% tax rate for retail betting. Lastly, customers cannot use credit cards to fund betting accounts. 

Other bill details include:

  • $5 million licensing fee renewable every five years
  • Mobile operators will pay an extra $1 million to the Public Health Trust Fund
  • Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) will oversee sports betting
  • Minimum age to place a bet is 21 years old
  • Wagering on esports is legal

The MGC will also conduct a feasibility study to determine if sports betting kiosks should be allowed at local bars and restaurants. The commission must complete the study by Dec. 31.

On July 27, casino executives in Massachusetts strongly urged state lawmakers to act on the bill before Sunday’s session closed.

On Thursday, Muradian said, “I think if we don’t get a bill done, we have failed the citizens of the Commonwealth. I mean, it’s been abundantly clear — for sessions now — that they want it.”

Photo by Charles Krupa / Associated Press
Nicholaus Garcia Avatar
Written by

Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for Playin USA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

View all posts by Nicholaus Garcia