Massachusetts Governor Signs Sports-Betting Bill Into Law

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday signed Bill H.5164, which will allow for both retail and online sports betting in the commonwealth.

Last Updated: Aug 11, 2022 9:08 AM ET Read Time: 2 min
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The bill that will at long last deliver legal sports betting in Massachusetts is now law.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday signed Bill H.5164, which will allow for both retail and online sports betting in the commonwealth. 

The legislation was approved by lawmakers on August 1, after more than a year of inaction, negotiation, and, eventually, compromise, which yielded the final bill.

While there is no date for when legal sports betting will start, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission cautioned last week that it will take some time. The commission will be the regulator of the sports-betting industry in the state and is meeting again on Thursday to discuss its work.

“For the past several years, we have been monitoring sports wagering legislation and taking appropriate steps to prepare for our potential role,” MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said in a statement on Wednesday. “As soon as this week we will be working to understand the landscape of interest in operator licensure as we move forward with this process.”

Joining the club

Massachusetts’ new sports-betting law sets out that bettors must be 21 or older. Wagering will be allowed in person at casinos and off-track betting facilities, as well as over the internet via online sportsbooks such as that of Boston-based DraftKings. As many as seven standalone mobile licenses can be issued, meaning they require no connection to a casino or racetrack. 

Revenue from retail sportsbooks will be taxed at 15%, while mobile bookmakers will be subject to a 20% levy. Only some college sports betting will be allowed in Massachusetts as well, as lawmakers were forced to compromise on the issue in a way that will block bets on in-state colleges, except during major tournaments.

The passage of H.5164 also puts legal gaming in Massachusetts more in line with what the state’s neighbors are doing, as most have some form of sports betting. One of the talking points for pro-sports betting lawmakers in Massachusetts had been noting that many in the state were already wagering, including by taking their business to New Hampshire or Connecticut

“Now that we have a law that defines our responsibilities as regulator, we will work with our stakeholders to swiftly stand up this new industry with a focus on integrity, player safety and consumer protection,” Massachusetts Gaming Commission Executive Director Karen Wells said in Wednesday’s release. 

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