Massachusetts officials voice doubts over sports betting bill passing

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and House Speaker Ron Mariano have voiced their doubts about the passing of the state’s sports betting bill.
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Massachusetts officials have voiced their doubts about the passing of the state’s sports betting bill before the end of formal sessions.

During an interview with GBH News’ Boston Public Radio on Thursday, Governor Charlie Baker noted that he’s unsure if lawmakers in both the House and the Senate will be able to send him a bill to sign before the end of this week.

According to MassLive, Baker said: “You know, it’s hard to tell at the end of session sort of what is or what isn’t going to get through the gate at the end.

“It is certainly on the minds of people in the Legislature … people are asking questions about it – people are still discussing it.”

The House and Senate have both passed sports betting legislation over the past year, but one of the key differences between the two is their stance on collegiate sports wagering. The House’s bill supports it, while the Senate’s bill is opposed to it.

A conference committee has been put together to try and iron out the differences between the two bills, but House Speaker Ron Mariano is unsure if any agreements will be made in time.

“Realistically, I don’t know. I don’t know. We’re far apart,” Mariano said to reporters at the Massachusetts State House.

The House Speaker would like to see collegiate sports betting included in legislation to stop people from wagering on the black market where they are unprotected.

Mariano noted: “I think there’s an opportunity to include college sports, rather than let it be only handled by bookies.

“I mean, I don’t understand if you’re going to do sports betting why you would leave out Final Four bowl games and the whole college football season. It doesn’t seem to be worth doing if you’re going to leave those.”

Back in May, the American Gaming Association submitted a letter to the Massachusetts General Court regarding the state’s sports betting bill.

Within its letter, the AGA urged officials in the state to resolve their differences in three critical areas – potentially banning wagers on collegiate sporting events, placing excessive restrictions on sportsbook advertising, and adopting an unreasonable tax rate for sportsbook operators.

Regarding sportsbook advertising restrictions, the House’s bill doesn’t have any restrictions and it allows deposits to be made with a credit card. The Senate’s bill has greater advertising restrictions and doesn’t allow credit card deposits.

As for sports betting tax rates, the House bill has tax rates of 15% for online sportsbooks and 12% for retail, while the Senate’s bill has significantly higher tax rates of 35% for online and 20% for retail.