Massachusetts guv wants land-based, online sports betting


massachusetts-governor-sports-bettingMassachusetts’ sports bettors appear set to get legal wagering sooner rather than later after four separate betting bills were filed this week.

On Thursday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (pictured) issued a statement saying he was preparing legislation that would allow the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) to issue sports betting permits to the state’s casino licensees, including MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park Casino.

In addition to offering in-house wagering at their venues, these casinos would be allowed to partner with third-party firms to conduct online wagering, while the MGC could also issue online-only licenses to non-casino licensees. It’s worth noting that DraftKings, the daily fantasy sports (DFS) site turned sportsbook operator, has its headquarters in Boston.

Baker’s plan would apply a 10% tax on land-based wagering revenue, while online betting would face a 12.5% rate. To ‘level the playing field,’ a new 12.5% tax would be applied to DFS revenue, which currently goes untaxed. Betting operators would pay an initial $100k license fee plus a $500k renewal every five years. Baker’s office estimates sports betting could add $35m in revenue to the state’s fiscal 2020 budget.

Baker’s plan — which wouldn’t permit wagering on college sports or esports events — marks the fourth betting bill the state has welcomed in the past two days. The details of these other bills vary somewhat, but Baker’s clout likely means his bill will be the one to emerge on top. But hey, that’s why they play the games, so keep watching this space.

On Thursday, the Mississippi Gaming Commission revealed that its sports betting licensees handled $41.7m in wagers in December, down slightly from November’s $44.5m. However, wagering revenue totaled just under $6.2m, beating the $5.3m the state’s sportsbooks kept in September, thanks to December’s gaudy 14.8% hold.

The betting revenue pushed December’s statewide casino gaming revenue total to $190.4m, a 7.3% rise over December 2017 and the second-highest monthly total of 2018. Total gaming revenue for 2018 hit just under $2.13b, up 2.2% from 2017’s result.

In Pennsylvania, December’s sports betting handle hit just under $16.2m, up from a mere $1.4m in November, while revenue quadrupled to $2m. However, the state had only one functioning sportsbook in November (Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course) and it didn’t open until mid-month.

The state had three casino sportsbooks open in December, and Hollywood finished last in handle with $5.05m. Despite having opened mid-month, Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh won the month with $5.58m and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia wasn’t far back with $5.54m. The state has since welcomed the launch of wagering at Parx Casino near Philadelphia, so SugarHouse better bring its ‘A’ game this month.

We close in Delaware, where the state’s three racino operators generated betting handle of nearly $16.1m in December, of which nearly $10.8m was wagered at Delaware Park. The three books claimed betting revenue of $2.15m. Total betting handle since the market’s June launch came to $87m, of which the books kept $8.9m.