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The state House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would legalize sports betting in Massachusetts, allowing people 21 and older to place wagers on professional and collegiate athletic events.

The House endorsed the measure 156-3, sending it to the state Senate, which has been less enthusiastic about legalizing the practice.

The bill’s passage follows years of discussion about whether to bring sports betting to Massachusetts, as several nearby states have legalized such wagering. The House passed a similar proposal last July as part of an economic development bill, but the Senate rejected including sports betting in the package.

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Proponents lauded the bill on the House floor Thursday, arguing it would legalize and regulate a market that residents already participate in elsewhere — and provide a tax windfall. Opponents say it would serve as a regressive tax on the vulnerable and increase gambling addiction, including among children.

The proposal passed Thursday allows betting on college sporting events, a notable difference from a Senate sports betting legalization bill that is currently before the upper chamber’s Ways and Means Committee, as well as a measure introduced by Governor Charlie Baker earlier this session. The House-approved bill also differs from the Senate version by allowing bets to be placed with credit cards.


Jasper Goodman can be reached at jasper.goodman@globe.com.