The evolution of sports betting in Massachusetts
This year, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill to allow sports betting, with which the Bay State officially became part of a wave of states legalizing it. The federal ban on sports betting was repealed in 2018. Now, more and more states are moving to allow bets on everything from college sports to the Super Bowl.
Data from the American Gaming Associations shows that the bill, which was passed into law, makes the Bay State the 36th in the country to allow sports betting.
Unfortunately for some, Massachusetts's new law is different from sports betting schemes in neighboring states in some ways. It will not be implemented immediately.
Who can bet on sports in Massachusetts?
To bet on MA sports, you must be at least 21 years old. The same goes for gambling in state casinos. Connecticut has the same age restriction.
Other states are laxer. For example, Rhode Island and New Hampshire only require a bettor to be 18.
Sports to bet on
You can bet on pro sports and most college sports, as well as e-sports. However, betting on youth and high school sports is still illegal. In terms of college athletics, bets on in-state teams are not allowed unless they're competing in a tournament.
You could bet on Boston college basketball games if they're competing in their conference tournament or March Madness, but not on regular season games.
You could bet on a college football team if they were in the College Football Playoff, but not on a game in the postseason.
Taxes on sports betting in MA
The lower taxes on sports betting in Massachusetts can help it compete against other states with more established gambling industries.
Winnings and wagers are not taxed in MA, unlike the state's marijuana excise tax or sales tax. The total monthly revenue that betting platforms earn from sports betting is taxed. The biggest tax – 20% - is on mobile betting revenue.
There is a 15% tax on revenue from in-person bets and the same tax on earnings from fantasy sports.
Compared to Rhode Island and New Hampshire's taxes on operator revenue of 51%, that's quite encouraging for MA casinos.
Legislators estimate that initial licensing fees will bring in $70 to $80 million in state revenue. Licenses need to be renewed once every five years. What's more, taxes will bring in $60 million in revenue to the state.
According to the state's law, tax revenues are distributed into the General Fund, the Gaming Local Aid Fund, the Workforce Investment Trust Fund, and the Public Health Trust Fund. A tiny portion will go to the Youth Development and Achievement Fund.
The General Fund of Massachusetts will receive the lion's share of the pie: 45%. This is a huge pool of funds used by legislators for the annual budget.
The next-biggest share - 27.5% - will go to the Gaming Local Aid Fund. Towns and cities spend this money as they wish.
Legislators recently created the Workforce Investment Trust Fund, which will get 17.5%. This fund issues grants to promote employment in low-income areas.
The health fund will get 9% and invest it in different support programs to treat and prevent gambling addiction.
Finally, the new youth fund will get 1% of tax revenue from sports betting. This organization provides financial assistance to youth sports, local college students, and after-school programs.