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Massachusetts Looking to Quickly Legalize Sports Betting

The state of Massachusetts could be the next state to legalize sports betting, and it appears that it could happen very soon. An economic development package was introduced earlier this month, and that package includes language legalizing sports betting.

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Most lawmakers are looking to create new jobs and bail out the economy, but a number of lawmakers pushed for sports betting to be included. Sports betting wasn’t a part of the original bill, but it has been added over the past few weeks.

The “Massachusetts Sports Wagering Act” was added to the package, and it could legalize sports betting if Governor Charlie Baker signs off on it. The act would create three different types of sports betting licenses that would be available in Massachusetts.

The first license will allow casinos to offer both retail and online sports betting. Race tracks would also be able to operate a brick-and-mortar sportsbook with a license, and the final license will be available for online-only operators. 

Casinos in the state have seen massive losses during the coronavirus pandemic, and sports betting would give them a chance to turn things around. Lawmakers are working against a deadline set to expire on July 31, but it appears that sports betting has enough support to eventually be voted through. 

Bill Passes House

On Tuesday night, the economic development package was put to a vote in the House of Representatives, and it passed. The bill will head to the Senate for review with hopes that an official vote will be taken before July 31.

The House of Representatives passed the sports betting portion of the bill by a vote of 156-3, but that likely won’t be the case in the Senate. Several state senators have already spoken out and opposed the bill, and it’s likely to be a much tighter vote. 

The Senate is also trying to pass its own economic development package, and sports betting will likely be a part of their plan. There isn’t enough time for each side to debate on the two bills, which could put an end to sports betting for the time being. 

More Licenses Added to Amended Bill 

House Bill 4887 was amended in several different ways, but one of the most significant changes was in the number of online licenses that would be available. DraftKings and FanDuel were expected to get the two online licenses, but now there will be other licenses available in Massachusetts.

There will now be seven sports betting licenses available, but five of these are already spoken for. The three casinos in the state already have solid partnerships with sports betting operators, and they will likely apply for a license. 

With DraftKings and FanDuel seemingly a lock for an online operator license, there are just two left. William Hill and BetRivers fit all of the descriptions that the bill is looking for, and they will likely be given the final two licenses. 

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