Senate Passes Sports Betting Legislation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Ben Kaplan, Communications Director Office of Senator Susan L. Moran
SENATE PASSES SPORTS BETTING LEGISLATION
Bill includes strong consumer protections
(BOSTON – 04/28/2022) The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday passed An Act regulating sports wagering which would legalize commercial sports betting in Massachusetts. The bill, which would allow for in-person and online sports betting, also includes several consumer safeguards and addresses gaming addiction and recovery. This legislation is estimated to generate $35 million in tax revenue annually.
"The legalization of sports betting will bring new opportunities and new revenue to the Commonwealth, but with that new revenue, we must show taxpayers where that money is going," said Senator Susan L. Moran (D-Plymouth & Barnstable). "I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that this money goes back to taxpayers by investing in our communities, specifically our existing social services infrastructure. I am pleased with the industry framework outlined in this bill and hope that the conference committee maintains this balance of community interests and economic opportunities."
The legislation would allow for bets to be placed on a professional sport or athletic event, such as the World Series or Stanley Cup, and establishes a licensing process that is inclusive of the state’s existing casino and slot parlor industry. In addition to sports wagering being offered at existing casinos, the bill contemplates six licenses to be awarded through a competitive process to companies which promote job-growth, responsible gambling, diversity, equity and inclusion, and which have community support. Those six licenses would be permitted to operate both in-person at a retail facility and online wagering. Wagering would not be permitted on electronic sports, amateur sports or athletic events including high school and youth sports, Olympic-related competitions, or collegiate sports. All leading Massachusetts Division 1 universities had previously weighed in against college sports betting.
“This bill has been carefully crafted to include strong consumer protections and encourage a competitive market for fun and responsible betting,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. “Its passage would bring Massachusetts into line with over two dozen states who have legalized sports betting since the 2018 Supreme Court decision. I want to thank Senate President Spilka, Chairman Rodrigues, and my House counterpart, Representative Parisella, for working collaboratively to get this legislation passed.”
Mindful of the harmful impacts of compulsive gambling and risks of addiction, the Senate proposal is intentional in its efforts to promote responsible gambling and takes steps to protect consumers. To that end, the bill would prohibit the use of a credit card to place a sports wager and would require the Department of Public Health (DPH) to establish a compulsive gambling direct assistance program.
Additionally, companies licensed to offer sports betting would be required to train employees to identify problem gambling and create plans to address instances of problem gambling, which would be submitted to the state’s Gaming Commission. In addition, the bill would ensure that consumers could cash out and permanently close accounts for any reason or create self-imposed limits on wagers.
To further protect consumers, this legislation would include limitations on advertising for sports betting. The bill would prohibit unsolicited pop-up advertisements and certain promotional items, and institute a whistle-to-whistle ban on television advertising during live sporting events. Similar to the state’s cannabis law, the bill would limit advertising on television and online where less than 85% of the audience is 21 or older.
With legislation relative to sports betting having passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives, a conference committee will be established to reconcile differences between the two bills.