Massachusetts Sees Flood of Legal Sports Gambling Bills

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker

Four sports gambling bills were introduced to the legislature before the 2019 session deadline on Friday, then the Governor teased the introduction of his own bill.

The three bills submitted on Wednesday to the state legislature were done individually by Senator Bruce Tarr, Senator James Welch, and Senator Brendan Crighton. On Thursday, January 17th, Governor Charlie Baker announced his intention to file what he calls an Act to establish sports wagering in the Commonwealth before the Friday cutoff, right after a fourth bill was brought forth that same day. All of the bills, except for Sen. Tarr’s SB 908, immediately allow the operation of sports wagering at physical locations and on mobile devices wherever the bettor is within MA.

SB 908 would only establish an 11-person study committee with 180 days to finish their study and report their finding to the legislature. The fourth bill seemed to cater to sports leagues, as they were given a royalty fee of .25 percentage of the wagers handled, payable to the league the bet was wagered on – a provision which has strongly been lobbied for by the leagues and sports associations.

However, these lawmakers aren’t the only ones betting on these bills passing as DraftKings, based in Boston, has put out a public statement supporting the utilization of mobile wagering as a safe and convenient option for states including Massachusetts.

This statement clearly shows the company’s intentions to dominate local mobile wagering markets with their branded DraftKings sportsbook app, of which the technology currently services the shared New Jersey mobile market.

Since PASPA’s removal as a US gambling law in May of 2018, states began legalizing state regulated and licensed sports betting operations. States like New Jersey have become more saturated with mobile sportsbooks; Therefore, Massachusetts a state considering legalization provides an optimal market to capitalize on.

We assume FanDuel, DraftKing’s longtime rival, is also eyeing the domestic market for any states with legalized mobile wagering.

Governor Baker’s proposed bill will be favored by the two sportsbook and daily fantasy sports providers, despite not many details given within the Baker Administration’s press release. His bill is said to allow licensing to any who apply which will allow providers like DraftKings and FanDuel to obtain a direct license without having to partner with a local venue or establishment. Which explains why in other legal sports gambling states these providers are introduced as an “affiliated sportsbook lounge” and/or an app in connection with a physical venue – Gov. Baker’s bill would be doing something brand new.

The “wide open” method Governor Baker is proposing will supposedly generate $35 million in tax revenue starting in 2020. However, the Massachusetts gaming Commission put out a white paper last March which estimates the state could generate $45 million annually.

All of the proposed bills in Massachusetts require a minimum gambling age of twenty-one and require sportsbook providers to allocate funds to a program to prevent, end, and treat compulsive gambling.