Massachusetts Sen. Brendan Crighton Refiles Sports Betting Bill

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After last year’s sports betting bill was left out in the final version of the state’s economic development bill during the previous session, Lynn Democrat Sen. Brendan Crighton has refiled a new Massachusetts sports betting bill.

With the state needing additional revenues due to the pandemic, Crighton is confident that his latest bill will be passed this year. Combined with the pressure from the neighboring legal markets in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and possibly Connecticut, Crighton believes that those could convince enough lawmakers to pass the bill in 2021.

Left out of the Economic Development Bill

Last summer, the Massachusetts House included sports betting in the original version of the economic development bill and voted 156-3 to pass it. However, the Senate never held a vote on the policy and it was left out in the final version of the economic development bill.

At that time, Sen. Eric Lesser, the lead negotiator in the senate and a Democrat from Longmeadow, said that the Senate would “like to do sports betting”. However, Lesser added that the economic development bill was not the venue to do it while preferring a stand alone bill, like the one that Sen. Crighton has filed this session.

Changes in the New Bill

While Crighton’s refiled bill is the same in most aspects. Only player aged 21 or older can place sports bets at the state’s casinos, slots parlors, horse racing tracks, simulcast facilities, and via legal online Massachusetts sports betting. However, there are several changes in some provisions, most notably in the revenue figures.

Last year’s bill proposed an application fee of $1M while the new bill provides for a $10 payment. The tax rate to be imposed on gambling companies was increased from 12.5% to 15% or revenues. Also a 1.25% renewal fee will charged to the operators every five years. These revenue changes are expected to bring in $100M in initial application fees and $45M in annual recurring revenues.

Legal Sports Betting Has Support From Stakeholders

Crighton started working on the Massachusetts sports betting bill right around the time that the U.S. Supreme Court repealed the Professional and Amateurs Sports Protection Act in 2018. Since then, he has been in contact with the stakeholders of legal Massachusetts sports betting and says he doesn’t see any deal breakers.

Massachusetts legal sports betting has the backing of the state’s major professional sports teams. Last November, the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, Revolution, and Red Sox all co-signed a letter to the Economic Development Conference Committee showing their support for sports betting. Boston-based gambling companies DraftKings, FanDuel, and MGM Springfield also signed that letter.