Below is a press release from State Representative Dave Robertson:
BOSTON, MA — The Massachusetts House of Representatives has brought the idea of sports bets one step closer to reality during a formal session, hashing out and finalizing a slue of issues within the legislation ranging from licensing to protections against cheating. Passing with 156 votes in a bipartisan show, the bill authorizes both “brick and mortar” licenses as well as electronic ones for websites and phone apps.
“Every state bordering us but Vermont allows this,” said Representative Robertson upon the vote, “and though I don’t gamble personally, folks here were using out of state websites or bookies to place those bets elsewhere. Now we can allow those who want to partake in it do so in a way that benefits everyone by having it on the books, has protections against cheating, and brings cash directly to community projects and workforce training programs. Over the past two terms this bill might have had the most consistent vocal support from our towns of all state-wide issues, and I am glad we are again moving this forward.”
The House bill varies from a proposal filed in the Senate, as the House version does authorize betting on collegiate sports. Under the proposal, however, individual athletes will not be available to be bet on. The bill also included a number of provisions for both online and in-person betting protections, including identifying addicted gamblers and requiring those with gambling licenses to work with the commission to ensure those addicted are barred from using such services. An amendment filed by Representative Hill and cosponsored by Representative Robertson banning simulcasting of dog racing also passed to be included in the final version.
Funds raised from fees are set to contribute to five targeted programs. This includes 40% to the Workforce Investment Trust Fund, which provides training to the unemployed as well as recovered addicts, those with disability challenges, and other groups to promote self-sufficiency and economic improvement through training and placement. 33% of revenue is earmarked for Local Aid for cities and towns, with another 20% to the Youth Development and Achievement Fund designed to help non-profits that teach youth through additional educational and athletic programs. The remaining funds are set to fund the Public Health Trust Fund to provide community services and the Player Benevolence Fund. The Player Benevolence Fund would be newly established, and is overseen by a commission including athletes from most major sports. This commission would review applications by non-profits that promote athletic medicine, youth sports, and youth education programs. The bill now heads to the Senate for debate.
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