Legislature begins to reconcile sports betting bills – with little time

Sports News

Lawmakers must agree on the changes before the end of the current session on July 31.

The State House in Boston. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

The state legislature has started the race to legalize sports betting before the end of the current session on July 31.

On Thursday, the conference committee began trying to reconcile key differences between Senate and House of Representatives bills that would legalize sports betting in Massachusetts.

The conference committee is made up of representatives Jerald Parisella, Aaron Michlewitz and David Muradian, as well as senses Michael Rodrigues, Eric Lesser and Patrick O’Connor.

Many important differences between the House and Senate bills need to be resolved, with the House bill, in general, being much more lenient and generous to gaming institutions.

One problem is that the House bill would allow betting on college sports, while the Senate version does not.

The Senate bill has strict rules for the marketing of sports betting, as well as the use of credit cards, which are not in the House version.

One of the biggest differences between the bills is the proposed tax rate for in-person wagering income. The House bill would set the tax rate at 12.5%, while the Senate bill would set it at 20%.

The gap is even greater for the proposed tax rate for online and mobile betting. While the House would set the rate at 15%, the Senate would like to set it at 35%.

“The Senate bill is a paternalistic bill. It has all these anti-gambling protections so you don’t get addicted to gambling. But you’re leaving both of those things on the black market, House Speaker Ronald Mariano said. State House Press Service (SHNS) last month.

In the other chamber, SHNS reported, Senate Speaker Karen Spilka has long been reluctant to legalize sports betting.

However, she previously told SHNS that she would have voted in favor of the Senate sports betting bill if it had been passed by roll call precisely because it had many measures to mitigate risk and harm. problem gambling.

The House bill was originally passed last summer, while the Senate bill was not passed until late April 2022 – a move for which Spilka has come under fire from politicians and critics. analysts.

Both bills legalize online and in-person sports betting for people 21 and older, and give the Massachusetts Gaming Commission responsibility for regulating sports betting and licensing lounges in the state.

If a compromise bill is drafted in time, it will go to Governor Charlie Baker’s office for signing. Baker has long supported the legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts.

Sports betting is currently legal in over two dozen states.