Sports betting back on the Beacon Hill agenda | News

BOSTON — Nearly four years after the United States Supreme Court legalized sports betting, Massachusetts may finally get a piece of the action.

A proposal set for a vote in the state Senate, possibly as early as Thursday, would authorize sports betting and the tax and regulate what has become a multi-billion dollar industry.

Under the Senate plan, sports betting would be regulated by the state Gaming Commission and operators would be taxed 20% of gross retail betting sales and 35% for online and fantasy sports betting. Operators would be required to pay a license fee of $5 million, which must be renewed every five years.

Even if the Senate approves the measure, there are major differences between the proposal and a similar version approved by the House last year.

For one thing, the Senate bill’s tax levy would be significantly higher than the House version, which calls for taxing in-person betting at 12.5% ​​and 15% for mobile betting.

A proposal tabled by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker calls for a 10% excise tax on in-person betting and 12% on online betting and daily fantasy sports competitions. Taxes would be based on a company’s revenue after making payments.

Another major difference with the Senate version of the bill is that it would ban betting on college sports, while the House version allows it.

This could prove to be a sticking point in negotiations between the House and the Senate. House Speaker Ron Mariano, D-Quincy, pointed to college sports betting likely to be one of the biggest betting drivers and said excluding them from the final package could be a “deal breaker.” ” for him.

Representatives from Massachusetts universities have called on lawmakers not to allow betting on college sports or to restrict betting to out-of-state sports teams.

Lawmakers have debated similar bills over the years, but none have been approved. Many died in the Senate, which balked at approving sports betting.

The latest effort has broad support from legislative leaders and Baker.

In 2018, the United States Supreme Court struck down a federal law banning sports betting in nearly every state except Nevada. The case involved New Jersey, which has fought for years to allow sports betting in casinos and racetracks.

Since then, at least 30 states – including Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York – and Washington, DC, have passed sports betting laws.

Boston-based DraftKings, MGM Springfield casino and professional sports franchises such as the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics are all looking for a piece of the market when sports betting is finally legalized in Massachusetts.

Supporters say the state is losing revenue as residents bet on games in states that have legalized sports betting.

In New Hampshire, which legalized sports betting in 2019, wagers topped $520 million in the previous fiscal year and more than 56,000 users signed up, according to the state lottery.

More than half of those bets were placed by Massachusetts residents, according to the lottery.

It’s unclear how much sports betting would generate for Massachusetts, but recent estimates range from $28 million to $60 million per year if college sports are allowed.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group newspapers and websites. Email him at [email protected]

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