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Massachusetts Senate Passes Sports Betting Bill

Governor Says He'll Sign If House And Senate Can Agree On Framework

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Massachusetts policymakers this week brought sports betting closer to the finish line.

On Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate advanced a piece of legislation that would legalize both in-person and online sportsbooks. A sports betting bill has also passed the state House, so now it’s a matter of making the two policy proposals match.

In the Senate, state lawmakers went with a prohibition on wagering on collegiate sports, while in the House the proposal allowed the wagering activity. Most states in the country that have sports betting allow wagering on collegiate sports.

“This bill has been carefully crafted to include strong consumer protections and encourage a competitive market for fun and responsible betting,” Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, said, according to CBS Boston.

The state could have three casinos with sportsbooks — Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor. Online sports betting giant DraftKings is headquartered in Boston and has been lobbying for legalization.

Legal sports betting the Bay State would continue to grow the gambling market. Earlier this year, the state announced that it had passed $1 billion in total tax revenue from the three casinos since the first one opened roughly a decade ago.

Earlier this year, Gov. Charlie Baker indicated he’d sign a sports betting bill should one be delivered to his desk. That could come later this year.

“There are many things that would make me happy before I leave office, if I have the chance to sign them,” Baker said in January. “One of them would certainly be a sports betting bill. Lieutenant Gov. [Karyn Polito] and I filed one several years ago, and filed it again after that. I know it’s a difficult issue with a lot of elements to it. And it would be my hope, of course, that our colleagues in the House and Senate would find a way to get to ‘yes’ on that before the end of the legislative session.”