Industry Reports

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Lays the Groundwork for Sports Betting in New White Paper

Gambling regulators and legislators across the United States are looking into the potential of sports betting in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision expected in the coming few months. In a new White Paper, released Thursday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is also considering the future of this lucrative market.

The 187-page document highlights the issues state authorities would need to tackle if the federal ban on sports gambling is abolished this spring. According to analysts, it is possible that within several months, sports gambling may suddenly become legal on the territory of the United States. This would require immediate steps regarding regulation and taxation to be taken which is why many states are now preparing new bills that would outline the legal basis for an industry that, until now, has existed in the underground.

In its comprehensive White Paper on Sports Betting, the state Gaming Commission highlights some of the considerations Massachusetts needs to take into account when legalizing sports wagering. If the federal single-game wagering ban is overturned, the state lawmakers will be able to rely on the basic guidelines detailed in the white paper. All this is conditioned on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the New Jersey sports betting case expected by the end of June 2018. If favorable to the State of New Jersey, the ruling will abolish the federal ban on sports betting as per the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).

Highlights of the Gambling Regulator’s White Paper

The document touches on several crucial moments, including the shortcomings of a potential striking down of the sports wagering ban and the federal laws that could be relevant to this type of gambling. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission also identifies prospective licensees and sports wagering operators within the state and explores the respective legislation, enacted or proposed, in other states.

Currently, Massachusetts lawmakers have not come out with an active bill regulating sports betting, although various proposals have been made. There is a bill (Bill SD.2480), however, which replaces the current law about daily fantasy sports and plans to research the possibility of online sports betting.

There are several benefits of the sports wagering legalization, according to the white paper, and among them is the opportunity to take this activity away from the black market and place it within a regulated market. Of course, another important aspect is the tax revenue generated from legal sports betting operations and the Gaming Commission pays attention to the difference between handle and hold (the total amount wagered and the revenue generated from that handle).

In addition, the regulator recommends considering online sports betting and offering sports wagering mobile apps. Of course, problem gambling and consumer protection are also addressed in the white paper.