Weekend poll indicates some movement on sports betting bills


(AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)

BOSTON (SHNS) – Two different bills that would legalize sports betting in Massachusetts are advancing on Beacon Hill with the committee reviewing the legislation opening voting Friday that could pave the way for either branch to consider the issue soon.

The Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies began polling members on different versions of legislation that would put Massachusetts in the company of neighboring states like Rhode Island and New Hampshire in allowing residents to place wagers on sports. Members of the committee have been given until Sunday at 5 p.m. to vote on the bills (S 269 \ H 506).

If given a favorable recommendation, Sen. Eric Lesser’s bill would move to the Senate where it could either be scheduled for a vote or referred to another committee. The Longmeadow Democrat is the co-chair of the committee, and this is the first session he has filed his own sports betting proposal. The second bill, which would be referred to the House once the poll closes, is a redraft of legislation originally filed by Rep. Dan Cahill.

While plans for either bill to be taken up by the full House or Senate are unknown, several State House and industry officials suggested there could be an appetite in the House to move on the sports betting issue before the summer break. The House last session passed legislation that would have legalized betting on sports, but the issue stalled in the Senate, where observers see more interest this year.

The redraft of the House bill would allow casinos, the slots parlor and simulcasting facilities, as well as horse racing tracks, to apply for licenses to take in-person wagers and to have between one and three mobile sports betting platforms. In-person bets would be taxed at 12.5 percent, and mobile wagers at 15 percent. An additional 1 percent tax would be levied on wagers placed on events in Massachusetts to be distributed proportionately between the facilities that hosted the events to be used for “sports wagering security and integrity.”

The new House bill would also allow wagering on the outcome of college sports contests, but not the performances of individual college athletes.

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