SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Eric Lesser says his sports betting bill will generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue while omitting betting on college and youth sports and protecting consumers and the integrity of the games.
Lesser offered an overview of the bill in an online press conference Monday, saying the legislation draws lessons from the successes and problems of legal sports gambling laws in other states.
“If done correctly, the idea here is to bring sports betting into the daylight, legalize it and, in a real-time way, monitor it so that potential violations or problems can be quickly identified and dealt with,” Lesser said.
The Longmeadow Democrat’s bill calls for a $1 million application fee for existing casinos and racetracks, and a $2 million fee for gambling venues with no brick-and-mortar presence. The difference takes into account the existing casinos’ multimillion-dollar investments, Lesser said.
The casinos now operating in Massachusetts are Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park.
Lesser’s bill also would set a tax rate of 20% on the profits of casinos and racetracks and 25% on the non-casinos, Lesser said. He described that tax rate as “moderate” compared to other states.
The tax revenues that could be gained by the state from sports gambling are difficult to predict, but could be $30 million to $35 million a year, Lesser said. That revenue will be of significant assistance to the state coffers but “is not a panacea” to budget issues, Lesser said.
The law allows in-person and mobile betting on professional sports, he said.
Several other sports gambling-related bills were filed by last week’s deadline, including a bill by Gov. Charlie Baker.
Lesser said his bill has built-in protections for the integrity of the sports and for the protection of the athletes and consumers.
“It was really a balancing act in which we are trying to encourage as much competition, as many participants as possible, but also making sure that people who applying for a license are serious about it and have the financial capacity to handle safely this type of betting, to be able to appropriately (address) risk during this type of betting,” Lesser said.
The bill includes reporting requirements related to “abnormal betting activity or patterns of suspicious or illegal wagering activities,” Lesser said in his summary.
The protections for gamblers include not allowing the use of credit cards, which can lead to problem gambling, and providing avenues for individuals to add themselves to self-exclusion lists.
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