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House Moves to Approve Online Sports Betting

David Robertson

Boston, MA - As part of a bill aimed to kickstart local economies and small business, Representative Robertson and the House included language to authorize online sports betting in Massachusetts - allowing residents to bet safely and securely within the state and avoid unsecure or exploitive websites around the world. Limiting bets to 21 and over, the bill allows sports fans to safely and legally place wagers.

"I had several dozen, if not more, people reach out to this almost immediately at the beginning of this session" said Representative Robertson "and to be frank, it is common-sense. We just need to make sure that they aren't doing it in ways that they could get their information stolen and ensures that the bets aren't rigged. And attaching the revenue generated to assist in reopening small businesses, and supporting them even after this pandemic passes, is just a win all around."

The bill will allow betting on collegiate and professional sports, but prohibits betting on youth and minor leagues as well as the Olympics. The legislation also prohibits family members of bet-takers, athletes, coaches, and referees from placing bets related to their respective leagues to avoid controversies such as occurred with the Boston College Basketball program. Further protections include the requirement of betting agents to undergo background checks against a national database, and electronic monitoring and oversight would immediately identify patterns of bets and wins that mirror common-scams and abuse.

The tax on bets, lower than surrounding states at 15%, also targets economic recovery directly. As proposed by the House, 30% is to be earmarked to the Distressed Restaurant Trust Fund, a fund established to assist local, non-corporate restaurants in reestablishing themselves. Other destinations of revenue include 40% of revenues to be sent to the Workforce Investment Trust Fund to assist the unemployed and underemployed train for better jobs, and 10% to youth programs and activities. Once the bill is passed in final form it will head to the Senate for debate and passage.
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