Expect a long discussion on sports betting on the Massachusetts Senate floor Thursday.
No fewer than 20 Massachusetts Senators filed 69 possible amendments to the sports wagering legislation expected to come up for a vote.
Proposed amendments cover such areas as allowing wagering on college sports, decreasing the tax rate, including pro sports teams, expanding licensing to racetracks, increasing skins and requiring official league data.
Amendments show lack of sports wagering consensus
The amendments were filed on to S 2844, substitute language from Sen. Eric Lesser added to the bill passed by the House last year.
Lesser chairs the Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee, which considered sports betting language for four years.
Given the 14 sports betting bills filed in Massachusetts last year, the interest from a variety of senators shouldn’t come as a surprise.
The magnitude of amendments illustrates how little progress the Senate made toward a consensus over that time.
As it will hit the Senate floor, the bill includes:
- No wagering on college sports
- A tax rate of 35% on online wagering, 20% on in-person bets
- One online sports betting skin for each of three physical casinos and six untethered online licenses
Amendments could bring Senate version closer to House
Major differences exist between the bill passed by the House and the one entering the Senate floor.
These amendments would bring the Senate proposal closer to the House bill:
- Sens. Adam Gomez, Patrick O’Connor and Michael O. Moore each filed amendments to allow for wagering on college sports.
- Sen. Bruce Tarr proposes changing the tax rate to 12.5% on online wagers and 10% on in-person bets. Each of those numbers is 2.5% less than the House bill.
- Tarr also proposes increasing the number of skins for Massachusetts casinos from one to two, a middle ground from the three in the House bill.
- Sens. Paul Feeney, Marc Pacheco, John Cronin, John Velis, Moore and Tarr want to expand licenses to Massachusetts racetracks.
- O’Connor also proposes eliminating a ban on sports betting advertisements during live televised games.
- Gomez asks for a study on allowing restaurants and bars to operate sports betting kiosks. And a study on the participation of minority business enterprises, women business enterprises and veteran business enterprises in the sports wagering industry. Both made the House bill.
Other notable amendments offered
Here are some other notable amendments offered that don’t match up with the House bill:
- Tarr and Feeney propose providing market access to professional sports teams for in-person and mobile wagering. The House bill includes a study on the issue.
- Sen. Brendan Crighton seeks to permit the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to require the use of official league data for in-game wagers.
- Velis wants to legalize and regulate video gaming terminals at restaurants, bars, veterans and fraternal organizations.
- Feeney and Crighton want to legalize online lottery.
Casinos send letter to Senate leadership
Massachusetts casinos sent a letter to Senate President Karen Spilka essentially asking for the Senate to adopt the House details for sports wagering.
The casinos call for:
- Allowing wagering on college sports
- A tax rate of 15% for online wagers and 12.5% for in-person bets
- Increasing skins from the one currently permitted in the Senate bill
- Remove the ban on sports betting advertisements
Amendments offered could address all of these concerns.