Baker signs sports betting and mental health care bill

More than four years after the U.S. Supreme Court said states could legalize sports betting, Massachusetts did exactly that when Governor Charlie Baker signed a sports betting bill Wednesday afternoon, bringing the public’s attention to gaming. Went on the rollout of the new legal activity of the Commission.

The sports betting bill was one of 17 that Baker acted on on Wednesday — he also signed legislation aimed at expanding access to mental health care services in Massachusetts and approved the majority of the Judiciary IT Bond bill that included the state’s gun laws. To rephrase includes language in response to a recent US Supreme Court decision.

The bill signed by Baker would allow people age 21 or older to bet on professional sports and most collegiate sports through the state’s casinos, slot parlors, simulcast centers and mobile platforms. Betting on Massachusetts colleges or universities is prohibited unless the team is participating in a tournament with at least three other participants.

Sports betting legalization has been a popular topic on Beacon Hill since the spring of 2018, when some legislative leaders spoke of considering sports betting on an “rapid basis”. But neither branch took action until the House included sports betting legalization in the 2020 economic development bill (it did not survive talks with the Senate), and the Senate’s hesitation to bring the bill into this session. The idea of ​​legalization was thrown into doubt. destination. After all, the sports betting bill was the last case of business sent to Baker before the formal season ended by 2023.

“Our administration first filed legislation to legalize sports betting in the Commonwealth several years ago, and I am delighted to sign the bill today,” Baker said in a statement. “We appreciate the legislature’s dedication and agreement on this issue, and we look forward to supporting the work of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on responsible implementation of the law over the next several months.”

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It is now up to the Gaming Commission to make legal sports betting a reality for Bay Staters. The commission is charged with regulating sports betting under the new law and the staff there has already compiled a list of about 225 rules that will need to be drawn up.

,[A] Much work has already been done by our team in anticipation of the legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts. This includes identifying more than 200 potential regulations, adopting a framework for using industry-recognized technical standards, establishing an infrastructure to screen and license applicants, begin recruiting a head of sports wagering and public Including scheduling meetings,” Gaming Commission executive director Karen Wells said on Wednesday, “Now that we have a law that defines our responsibilities as regulators, we focus on integrity, player safety and consumer protection. We will work with our stakeholders to build this new industry faster.”

The Gaming Commission meets on Thursday morning and demands an update from Wales on the implementation of the Agenda sports betting.

Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said last week that the commission intends to hold a roundtable discussion “at the first available date” with its existing licensees – the Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park casinos, and the Simulcast Center Raynham Park. and Suffolk Downs – to find out more about their plans for sports betting operations and to obtain their input as the Commission sets out to write legal sports betting rules.

North Grunsel, vice president and general manager of Plainridge Park Casino in Plainsville, said his team is “excited to continue working with the Mass Gaming Commission to quickly open our retail sports book” so patrons can take advantage of the new legal offering. .

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“This is an important step in ensuring that Massachusetts can compete with neighboring states in a highly competitive gaming market and back tax dollars by bypassing the state,” Grunsell said.

Well, Baker also signed a mental health access bill on Wednesday that took part in the State House debate around sports betting. While the House was eager to see the Senate consider sports betting, Senate Speaker Karen Spilka clarified that she had other priorities and pointed to the importance of the Senate’s mental health care bill when regularly asked about sports betting. . A breakthrough was announced on 1 August at around 5:10 a.m. sports betting talks and word that the final mental health bill had been signed got out around the same time.

Spilka said Tuesday that the mental health bill is “already being introduced as a milestone, first bill in the country.” The new law seeks to rein in the emergency department boarding crisis, eliminates the pre-authorization requirement for mental health acute treatment, and requires commercial insurers to cover emergency service programs.

Baker said, “Today I am pleased to sign legislation that expands access to behavioral health services, increases our understanding of behavioral health challenges and takes steps to ensure that Our health care system treats mental health the same way we treat physical health.” “The COVID-19 pandemic underscores long-standing challenges in this area, which is why our administration has made significant investments to increase access through our behavioral health roadmap. The new law signed today builds on that work. will build upon and reaffirm our shared commitment to the administration, legislature and our health care community to better support the behavioral health needs of our residents.”

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The governor signed nearly all of the $165.5 million bill Wednesday that began as the Judiciary IT Bond bill, intended to modernize the state’s court and courtroom operations, but also passed Massachusetts laws to the U.S. Supreme Court in New York State. The judgment was expanded to include compliant language. Rifle and Pistol Association v Bruen. The court rejected New York’s requirement that applicants demonstrate “reasonable reason” for a concealed carry permit, and the justices equaled Massachusetts law.

“I support these changes,” Baker wrote in his signature letter.

A section of the Judiciary IT bond bill that Baker returned to the legislature is “entirely unrelated to information technology spending” and would require that “the remaining unused balance in a line item from the 2018 General Government Bond Bill be specifically excluded.” be spent on court facilities in New Bedford,” the governor said.

The clause “to halt all other court projects, including ongoing work at the Quincy Regional Justice Centre, Framingham Regional Justice Center and Springfield Hall of Justice in favor of the construction of a new facility” would thus, if approved, have a direct effect. In Bedford,” Baker wrote to lawmakers. “This cannot be what the legislature intended.”