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Legal Sports Betting Dies in Senate in Massachusetts

There was a chance that sports betting was coming to Massachusetts this year, but that plan has been put on hold. A recently introduced sports betting bill was scrapped by the Massachusetts Senate just days before their formal session is set to end.

Sports betting legislation was recently thrown into a much larger jobs bill that was introduced in an effort to boost the economy in Massachusetts. The House of Representatives felt that adding sports betting would bring in additional and much-needed revenue.

House Bill 4887 easily passed through that chamber, but it was defeated in the Senate. The Senate instead proposed S 2842 as an amendment to the House Bill. All sports betting language was removed in the new amendment.

Senator Michael Brady proposed a sports betting amendment, but that was not included in the bill. Brady believes that the Senate will eventually legalize sports betting, but it wasn’t the right time.

The formal legislative session is scheduled to end on Friday, but there is still a chance that sports betting will get approved in 2020. Lawmakers continue discussions throughout the year, and sports betting will be at the heart of these discussions.

Massachusetts is losing out on a ton of money as several neighboring states have already legalized sports betting. Residents from Massachusetts can head to either New Hampshire or Rhode Island to place bets on their favorites teams and leagues. 

Governor Charlie Baker is a strong proponent for legalized sports betting in Massachusetts, and he continues to include potential sports betting revenue in his budget proposals. This discussion has been taking place since 2018, but lawmakers have been unable to reach any agreement. 

Major Flaws in Proposed Bill

Industry experts believe that it was a good thing that this bill did not pass through the Senate in Massachusetts. There were a number of strange phrases placed into this bill, and the Senate was quick to point out the flaws.

Initially, the sports betting bill called for just five available sports betting licenses. All of those licenses were already spoken for as well, and no other big names would be able to enter the market.

Each of the three casinos in the state of Massachusetts would be granted a sports betting license, as well as both FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook. That part of the bill was amended in the House before being sent to the Senate, and there would be seven sports betting licenses available.

The bill also allowed for revenue-sharing between professional leagues and sports betting operators, and that would be the first such deal in the United States. The was also a section of the bill that called for 1 percent of all gaming revenue of events in Massachusetts to be paid to the host venue.

Some of this language will likely remain in the final bill and debated amongst lawmakers over the next few months. 

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