Will this be the year lawmakers finally legalize sports betting?
State Senator Brendan Crighton believes the odds may have shifted in his favor once and for all.
The updated version of his previous proposal for sports betting by the Lynn Democrat includes a higher tax rate and a significant increase in royalties, which he said will generate the required revenue for Massachusetts even before a bet is placed.
He believes there is reason to believe that despite the leadership's indifference over the past two years, the Senate will seriously consider getting this session passed.
Senate members of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies abstained from voting at the last session to advance a bill on sports betting prepared by that body, and the Senate Chairs also passed a House-backed proposal on sports betting that tied into a major economic development bill was attached in July.
"Sports betting is alive and well in Massachusetts, but unfortunately we are pouring money into the black market and legalized states," said Crighton.
Jump-start is clearly what this proposal needs.
Even a press in court over a letter signed last November by all five major professional sports teams, gambling companies and a powerful union in Massachusetts failed to get lawmakers to act.
In the absence of an agreement on a tax rate or structure for betting at the time, this group estimated that Massachusetts could bring in about $ 50 million annually through sports betting. Governor Charlie Baker previously estimated annual sales of $ 35 million, while the House had estimated annual sales of approximately $ 20 million.
Senator Eric Lesser, who chaired the Sports Betting Committee at the last meeting, plans to submit his own bill in the coming weeks.
Legalized sports betting currently operates in the District of Columbia and 19 states, including New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
Crighton's latest bill would allow the two state-owned casinos in Everett and Springfield, the slots salon in Plainville, horse racing licensees and mobile platforms such as Boston-based DraftKings to host personal and online sports betting.
Should thoroughbred racing return to Massachusetts, tracks could also be added to the industry, regulated and monitored by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Potential licensees would have to pay a license fee of $ 10 million after Crighton paid $ 1 million in the original bill. The tax rate would also increase to 15%, an increase from the 12.5% originally proposed by Crighton.
Crighton's bill would allow betting on professional and college sports, but not on state college teams.
Several other bills tabled in the last session, including one by Governor Baker, banned college sports, but Baker recently told the State House News Service that he would accept a framework that included betting on college sports as it already did happens in neighboring states.
House spokesman Ron Mariano, who blamed the Senate for failing to legalize sports betting last year, has promised to raise the issue at the start of the new legislature.
Massachusetts cannot sit on the sidelines and watch neighboring states withdraw tax money that this state desperately needs in this high-revenue environment created by COVID.
With no legislative action, you can bet that this revenue will continue to flow into New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island.
This is not a game of chance. It is a sure thing.