BOSTON – Gov. Charlie Baker signed the sports betting legalization bill into law Wednesday, his office announced.
The governor said he looks forward to the law being implemented “over the next several months.”
“Our administration first filed legislation to legalize sports wagering in the Commonwealth several years ago, and I am glad to be able to sign this bill into law today,” Baker said in a statement. “We appreciate the dedication and compromise that the Legislature demonstrated on this issue, and we look forward to supporting the work of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on the responsible implementation of the law over the next several months.”
Lawmakers reached an agreement earlier this month to legalize betting on professional and college sports. Sports betting is already legal in more than 30 states, including Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York.
Anyone at least 21 years old will be able to place a wager in Massachusetts with a 15% tax on in-person wagers and a 20% tax on mobile bets. Betting on Massachusetts colleges and universities will not be allowed unless they are playing in a post-season tournament like March Madness.
“It’s also going to create a whole new industry and a whole new sector for our economy and a whole new way for people to engage with their favorite teams,” state Senator Eric Lesser told WBZ-TV when the bill passed. “I think given the scope of what we’ve included here, including college that’s out of Massachusetts I think we’re probably going to see 60-to-65 million dollars a year”
So when will people people be able to start betting on games? While legislators initially said it could be up-and-running in time for the start of football season in fall, the Gaming Commission recently said not so fast.
Commissioners said implementing the law could be a months-long process, the State House News Service reported.
“I want the public to understand, as we as commissioners are starting to understand, that this isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight,” Commissioner Brad Hill said. “This is going to take a little longer than people probably anticipate, and I’m OK with that because I want to do it right.”