Native lawmakers again sports activities betting invoice | Regional Information

BOSTON – Two local state representatives joined a majority of lawmakers in the House on July 22 in passing a bill to legalize in-person and mobile sports betting in Massachusetts for people 21 and older.

State Reps. James Kelcourse, R-Amesbury, and Lenny Mirra, R-Georgetown, voted to approve the measure, 156-3, which now heads to the Senate for consideration.

In a press release, Kelcourse and Mirra said House Bill 3977 creates three categories of sports wagering licenses: Category 1 licenses for in-person wagering at a casino; Category 2 licenses for in-person wagering at a racetrack or simulcast facility; and Category 3 licenses for sports wagering conducted through a mobile application and other digital platforms approved by the commission.

Under the bill, Category 1 license holders would be allowed to partner with up to three branded mobile applications or other digital platforms approved by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for placing bets, while Category 2 license holders can partner with no more than one mobile application or digital platform. In-person wagering will be subject to a 12.5% excise tax, while mobile wagering will be taxed at 15%.

If the bill becomes law, licenses would be issued for five years at a cost of $5 million, with renewals subject to the same fee. Qualified operators could also pay a $1 million fee for a temporary one-year license, with the remaining $4 million due once they received final licensing approval.

As part of the licensing process, all applicants would be required to pay a nonrefundable processing fee of $100,000 to defray the costs associated with processing their application and a background investigation, according to the release.

Kelcourse noted that most of the new taxes and fees associated with sports betting would go into the Sports Wagering Fund and be used to support the current Gaming Local Aid Fund and Public Health Trust Fund, as well as three new funds created by the bill. The new funds include: 

¢ The Workforce Investment Trust Fund, administered by the secretary of housing and economic development to provide grants for workforce opportunities for low-income communities and vulnerable youths and young adults;

¢ The Youth Development and Achievement Fund to provide financial assistance to Massachusetts students enrolled in a public or independent college or university, as well as funding for after-school and out-of-school activities; 

¢ The Players’ Benevolence Fund, which will distribute funding to charitable organizations recommended by an advisory committee created under the bill. 

“The revenue brought from sports gaming to communities throughout Massachusetts will be vital in the coming years. The increase to local aid it will generate will help pay for services in Amesbury, Newburyport and Salisbury. Residential taxpayers in these communities deserve a break, and sports gaming will certainly help,” Kelcourse said in a statement.

The House bill also includes language and funds to address the problems associated with compulsive gambling and addiction. As part of this effort, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will establish and maintain a list of individuals who voluntarily self-exclude themselves from sports wagering.

The bill protects players by requiring the commission to issue regulations that prohibit the purchase or use of an athlete’s biometric data for sports wagering. The legislation also protects minors and those who choose to self-exclude from sports wagering by prohibiting advertisements meant to appeal to young people and those who struggle with problem gambling.

In addition, the bill directs the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to investigate the economic impact of allowing retail locations to operate sports wagering kiosks, and the effects it would have on public health and problem gaming. The commission is scheduled to file a report with its findings and recommendations by Dec. 31, 2022.

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