BOSTON (SHNS) – The House gave initial approval Wednesday to legislation authorizing sports betting and the deadline for amendments to the bill is 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to the House clerk’s office.
Shortly after the House Ways and Means Committee voted 28-0 to advance its version of a sports betting bill (H 3977), the House accepted the changes and teed the bill up for debate and consideration of amendments on Thursday. The bill, which would inch Massachusetts closer to joining most neighboring states where wagering on sports is already allowed, is expected to clear the House, which has signed off on sports betting before.
The Senate, which has been reluctant to take up the topic, has not set a day for its debate. The House bill closely mirrors the version released last week by the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, permitting betting on professional sports and the outcome of college contests but not on the performance of individual college athletes.
The legislation would also retain the same tax structure recommended in the redrafted version of Rep. Dan Cahill’s bill (H 506), with in-person wagers taxed at 12.5 percent and mobile bets taxed at 15 percent.
During a meeting Wednesday morning, Gaming Commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein asked commission staff for an update next week on the status of sports betting and the legislative process. As with most sports betting proposals, the House bill would put the commission in charge of regulating the activity. The commission currently oversees three casino licensees. The House also approved legislation (H 3976) extending the authorization for simulcast wagering on races for one additional year until July 31, 2022 and to a bill setting borrowing terms (H 3975) for the Chapter 90 road and bridge funding law Gov. Charlie Baker signed last week.
The House and Senate also worked together Wednesday to send Gov. Charlie Baker a $261.6 million fiscal 2021 supplemental budget (H 3973) that would reinstate lapsed pandemic-era mail-in voting and early voting provisions until Dec. 15 and create a new MBTA board of directors to succeed the now-dissolved Fiscal and Management Control Board.