On Thursday 11th of August, the Massachusetts Sports Wagering Act was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker. This is a landmark step forward for the United States, making Massachusetts the 31st state in the country to legalise sports gambling. For years, there has been a bold push to legalise sports betting in the state, particularly to align Massachusetts with neighbouring states, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.
While it may seem like something that has been ‘a long time coming’ for some, there’s a wave of sports betting success washing over the nation these days. In 2019, Montana legalised sports gambling, and in the space of the next three years, it was joined by a further thirty states. For betting operators, these new, legalised markets present extremely valuable opportunities, both in terms of traditional sporting leagues, like the NFL, NBA, and MLS, and emerging areas, such as esports.
U.S. Sports Betting: A Work In Progress
In 2018, the Supreme Court stripped away the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. This law, which was raised in 1992, prohibited almost all sports gambling activities, except for those that took place in the state of Nevada. When the Supreme Court struck down the law, it meant that states could offer legal sports betting to their residents, if they chose to do so.
Now, in the latest step on the path to something of a blanket coverage where sports betting is concerned, Massachusetts has opened its doors to sports gambling. In a statement, Governor Charlie Baker spoke highly of the news:
Our administration first filed legislation to legalize sports wagering in the Commonwealth several years ago, and I am glad to be able to sign this bill into law today. We appreciate the dedication and compromise that the Legislature demonstrated on this issue, and we look forward to supporting the work of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on the responsible implementation of the law over the next several months.
However, despite the bill being signed, there is a long journey ahead for the state in terms of gambling restrictions. For now, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will need to seize control of the implementation plan, sitting down to strategise and determine how the launch of legal sports betting opportunities in the state will roll out. It could be 2023 before residents of Massachusetts see legal sports betting activities open up.
In the words of Commissioner Brad Hill, ‘this isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight’.
The Specifics Of The Law
The bill outlines three key categories of ‘licensing’ – in-person wagering at casinos, in-person wagering at live horse racing facilities, and ‘fully mobile or digital’ wagering. There are countless terms and safeguards built into the bill, such as the application of a 15% tax rate on in-person sports betting and 20% tax rates on mobile and digital wagering. Furthermore, any online betting platforms serving Massachusetts-based bettors must display information advertising gambling addiction hotlines and they must restrict the ability to place bets using credit cards.
So far in 2022, Maine, Kansas, and now Massachusetts have legalised sports gambling and bolstered US sports betting markets – which state will be next?