New Sports Betting Bills Await Massachusetts, Minnesota and Mississippi

New bills for a new year

Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Mississippi are the latest states in which lawmakers have proposed new sports betting legislation this year.

Senator Brendan Crighton of Massachusetts on Tuesday proposed both retail and mobile sports betting in the Bay State. The move comes despite the exclusion of sports betting from the state’s 2021 budget proposal. Meanwhile, two Minnesota lawmakers announced their intention to file sports betting legislation. The bills would only allow retail sports betting initially before online platforms could launch a year later.

Finally, a Mississippi senator aims to legalize statewide mobile sports betting. If passed, the new bill would allow Mississippi residents to wager on phones and computers from anywhere in the state.

A turnaround in Massachusetts

Earlier this month, efforts to introduce Massachusetts sports betting looked set to fall by the wayside. Although Governor Charlie Baker included plans for its legalization in his 2021 budget proposal, state lawmakers removed them from the document’s final draft. Legislators instead chose to focus their efforts on providing coronavirus relief.

However, Sen. Crighton has set the wheels back in motion after re-filing his bill on Tuesday. SD177 would permit retail betting at casinos, slot parlors, and racetracks. It also allows for online-only operators to enter the market. The bill differs from previously failed legislation from last year in that Crighton has increased the proposed mobile operator application fee from $1m to $10m. The senator also raised the sports betting tax rate from 12.5% to 15%.

we’re letting money go down the drain to the black market and states that have legalized”

Speaking with the Boston Herald this week, Crighton outlined his reasons for supporting sports betting. He said: “Sports betting is alive and well in Massachusetts, but unfortunately we’re letting money go down the drain to the black market and states that have legalized.”

According to the Boston Herald, two other Massachusetts officials – Senator Erik Lesser and House Speaker Ron Mariano – intend to propose their own sports betting bills later this year.

Minnesota lawmakers partner up

In a virtual press conference Tuesday, Senator Karla Bigham and Representative Pat Garofalo made clear their case for a legal Minnesota sports betting market. The legislators argued that neighboring states were profiting from Minnesota’s lack of sports betting. “People are ready to see it happen,” Garofalo asserted, adding:

They are sick of driving to Iowa to place sports bets.”

Their joint bills, which they are yet to file, would allow for retail betting at casinos and racetracks. After one year, mobile sports betting operators could launch in Minnesota. However, the legislation would require in-person registration for mobile betting. The two lawmakers are proposing a 6% tax rate for retail bets and 8% for mobile wagering.

Native American tribes in Minnesota have consistently opposed the legalization of sports betting. In response to Bigham and Garofalo’s proposal, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) released a statement reaffirming its opposition. The body took a similar stance when Sen. Roger Chamberlain proposed legislation of his own in 2019.

Mississippi senator shoots for online

In a Monday announcement, Senator Philip Moran said he had proposed legislation for the legalization of Mississippi mobile and online sports betting. He explained that the state had been missing out on vital funds by not authorizing such legislation, adding that it is time to “modernize Mississippi’s gambling offerings.”

SB2732 would allow bettors to place online wagers from anywhere in Mississippi, with a percentage of profits going towards the state.

In Mississippi, mobile sports betting is only currently legal within one of the state’s 26 casinos. State legislators considered three mobile sports betting bills in 2019 which attempted to expand this, but none were successful.

Moran’s legislation is the third Mississippi sports betting bill proposed so far in 2021. It follows a similar bill put forward by Senator Scott DeLane on January 18. Meanwhile, HB 1042, proposed by Rep. Jay McKnight, would also alter existing state legislation to permit off-casino sports wagering.

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