MA introduced betting bills last legislative session but could not get them passed – this year they try again.
On May 28th, 2019, the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies will be hearing House Bill 372 and Senate Bill 231. Both bills regard the topic of domestic sports wagering legalization. HB 372 has six Democratic sponsors behind it, these being Brian Ashe, Nick Boldyga, Carlos Gonzalez, Angelo Puppolo Jr., Jose Tosado, and Bud Williams.
Under MA’s HB 372, sports wagering licenses will be divided between two categories, Category 1 licensing would go to casino establishments with table games and slots, wanting to offer betting options. Category 2 licenses are granted to facilities with no table games and no more than 1,250 slots, like a racino. Wagering in the commonwealth under HB 372 and SB 231 would only allow MA players who are 21 and older to enjoy domestic wagering opportunities.
MA players who are at least 18 who want to enjoy betting can do so through licensed offshore sportsbooks that are legally accessible according to US federal and Massachusetts state law.
Potential MA wagering would include in-person betting and wagering online or through a mobile betting app. The second betting bill Massachusetts will be hearing this upcoming Tuesday will be SB 231. Both bills were introduced to the 191st General Court session, but SB 231 only has two sponsors: Paul Feeney and Jim Welch, both Democrats.
When comparing the text of the two bills, they look identical. Therefore, one can assume that lawmakers in the state are trying to push for sports betting out of both houses and simply want one to survive. These bills in the legislature could be placeholders or first drafts.
These bills have been referred to committees since they have been introduced so that may be a possibility as to why there is not enough contained within them to be robust and strikingly different. Likely as the bills enter their hearing with both legislative branches on the 28th, there will be amendments added which will differentiate them from one another.
However, it is more likely that one bill will move forward while the other is left behind, so the legislative focus could be on one bill. The Massachusetts legislature is still in its first annual session so there is plenty of time for lawmakers to convene and figure out how they would like to implement domestic wagering.