Massachusetts will join the majority of the country in allowing sports betting, pending the expected passage and signing of a bill that emerged from a conference committee Monday morning.
The bill comes more than four years after the US Supreme Court declared states have the authority to legalize sports wagering.
Other states in the Northeast took advantage of the opportunity relatively quickly and began collecting tax revenue from bets otherwise headed to offshore operations or local bookmaking operations.
Governor Charlie Baker was an early supporter, filing his own bill in January 2019, but lawmakers on Beacon Hill took a methodical approach before a six-member House-Senate group hammered out the final details in the waning moments of the legislative session.
Can you bet on college sports?
Included in the bill is betting on college sports, although betting on in-state colleges will not be allowed unless the school is playing in a tournament.
College presidents in Massachusetts had lobbied for no college betting, with the Senate’s version of the bill also including the ban.
The compromise reached on in-state college exclusions exists in several other states.
When will you be able to place bets?
The bill is expected to be passed and signed by Baker, although exactly when bets can be made remains unknown. State Senator Michael Rodrigues offered an optimistic “hopefully” for it starting by the fall football season.
How much money will sports betting bring in to Massachusetts?
Estimates on tax revenue vary. But with the inclusion of college sports betting, the annual total is expected, conservatively, to exceed $35 million.
More than $141 billion has been wagered on sports nationwide since 2018, with state coffers collecting a total of $1.5 billion, according to Legal Sports Report.
Tax proceeds will be divvied up this way: 45 percent to the state’s General Fund; 17.5 percent to Workforce Investment Trust Fund; 27.5 percent to Gaming Local Aid Fund; 9 percent to Public Health Trust Fund; and 1 percent to Youth Development and Achievement Fund.
Among the entities lobbying Massachusetts legislators to adopt sports betting were the local professional sports franchises, professional leagues, Boston-based DraftKings, and the state’s three casinos.
Where else is sports betting legal?
Except for Vermont, every neighboring state of Massachusetts — New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York — has an up-and-running sports betting operation.
Massachusetts will become the 36th state to legalize sports betting. A total of 30 states plus Washington, D.C., have operational sports betting.
Maine has legalized sports betting, but it’s not yet up and running.
Until Massachusetts sports betting goes live, sports bettors determined to wager legally can still place their bets over their phones by driving over the state border and using a mobile app.
How did Mass. legislators reach this agreement?
The conference committee was created to hammer out a compromise on three significant disagreements between the chambers: college betting, tax rates, and advertising bans.
Middle ground was reached on tax rates, with the Senate’s language to ban both college betting and advertising by betting operators not surviving.
The tax rate on gross sports wagering receipts from brick-and-mortar and fantasy sports operators was set at 15 percent, with online and mobile operators taxed at 20 percent.
Numerous safeguards are included in the legislation to address gambling addiction, including prominent placement of problem-gambling hotlines. Regulators will keep an eye out for deceptive, misleading, and untrue advertising; ads will be targeted to adults over the age of 21; and there will be no pop-up ads or text messages from operators.
Where will you be able to bet on sports?
Each of the three casinos in the state — Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville — will be allowed to have sports books on their property. Horse and greyhound racing sites, including simulcast-only, are also eligible to accept sports bets.
For now, there will be no sports-betting kiosks in restaurants, bars, small businesses, and convenience stores, but a study will be commissioned to explore the pros and cons of expansion.
Up to seven licenses, or “skins,” will be granted for online operators. That list is expected to include at least DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars. Online operators do not have to be associated with, or “tethered” to, a Massachusetts property in order to apply for a license.
Applicants for a temporary license will be charged $1 million, with a $5 million fee due for those granted five-year licenses.
Owners of teams or skins, athletes, referees, coaches, and employees of teams, especially those with knowledge of confidential information, are banned from placing bets on their sports.
What other rules will there be?
▪ For online and mobile betting, funds for bets will have to be linked to debit cards and not credit cards — a measure implemented to ensure that consumers are wagering with funds on hand and not borrowing.
▪ Background checks will be conducted on current and future employees of operators.
▪ Betting on high school and youth sports will not be allowed.
▪ In-game betting — as well as parlays, money line, over-under, proposition, and straight bets — will be legal, except for on college sports.
Samantha Gross of the Globe staff contributed to this report.