Massachusetts Legalizes Sports Betting

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It took five overtimes, but Massachusetts finally cleared the way for legalized sports betting on the final day of its legislative session. 

It has been a long time coming for Massachusetts sports bettors, who have been patiently waiting since 2018 when PASPA was overturned to legalize betting. Over the past five years, citizens of the commonwealth have watched nearly every neighboring New England state legalize betting except their own, along with roughly 30 other US states. 

Not anymore. 

The deal was announced by House Speaker Ron Mariano at 5:10 a.m. ET Monday morning as the midnight deadline was extended.

"I am proud to announce that the Sports Betting Conference Committee has reached an agreement that will legalize wagering on professional and collegiate sports in Massachusetts, bringing the immense economic benefits of a legal sports betting industry to MA."

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In an ecstatic turn of events, the compromise will allow wagering on college sports, except for Massachusetts colleges. This is similar to how New Jersey allows college betting, but not for in-state schools like Rutgers. This was the major sticking point that held up an agreement for months, as the House bill allowed for college betting but the Senate bill outlawed it entirely. 

The bill includes a 20% mobile tax rate, 15% retail tax rate, no credit cards and no advertising ban. Casinos and racetracks will get licenses and there will also be 7 mobile licenses awarded. Bettors must be 21-years-old to place a wager and also physically located within state borders.

Major credit goes to the six negotiators who hammered out the compromise: Senators Eric Lesser, Michael Rodrigues and Patrick O'Connor along with Representatives Jerald Parisella, Aaron Michlewitz and David Muradian.

The bill will now be sent to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk. He has 10 days to sign it into law and is expected to do so as soon as this week. 

According to Sen. Rodrigues, sports betting will "hopefully" be up and running in Massachusetts in time for football season. 

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