House lawmakers are expected to advance a bill that would legalize sports betting in Massachusetts, and the state’s pro sports franchises said they are looking for a piece of the action.
Two of 28 amendments filed alongside the bill ahead of Thursday’s scheduled debate propose allowing gambling inside or nearby stadiums and would allow teams to apply for the licenses.
“The Red Sox and the state’s other major professional sports teams — the Bruins, Patriots, Celtics and the Revolution — all support the idea,” David Friedman, who heads up government affairs for the Red Sox, said.
The bill, as drafted, would legalize betting on professional and college sports for people 21 and older. It includes wagering on fantasy, video games and racing. A similar bill passed the House last year but died in the Senate.
The proposed law lays out a framework for three categories of licenses — for casinos, race tracks and mobile operators.
The two identical amendments filed separately by Rep. Bradford Hill and Rep. Jay Livingstone would add an additional license category for retailers to allow fans to place bets in person, adjacent to or a half-mile away from a sporting facility. That would include, if passed, Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium.
It would allow teams like the Red Sox to apply for those licenses.
Leagues currently disallow betting in stadiums alongside ticketed fans, but Friedman said wagers could be taken in a separated area of a stadium. The Washington Nationals are currently building out a sportsbook at their stadium, he said.
Five other jurisdictions — Washington, D.C., Arizona, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia — currently allow teams to carry sports wagering licenses.
Lawmakers have for years tried — and failed — to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts as a growing number of states have done so. As of July, some form of sports gambling is operational or pending in 31 states plus Washington, D.C., according to the American Gaming Association.
Licensing fees for the three casinos, two race tracks and up to nine mobile app operators described in the bill would generate as much as $80 million for the state to start and again upon their renewal every five years, according to state Rep. Jerald Parisella, D-Beverly, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. They would be regulated by the state Gaming Commission.
The state could cash in on another $60 million to $70 million in tax revenue annually, he said. In-person bets at casino and track retailers will be taxed at 12.5%, with mobile bets costing slightly more at 15%.
The Senate has yet to signal its support for a bill.