House Ties Slot Machine Licenses For Vets To Sports Betting Bill

Photo: (Mario Jarjour/WBZ NewsRadio)

BOSTON (State House News Service) — Not only is the Massachusetts House poised to approve legal sports betting Thursday, but through an amendment from Rep. Paul McMurtry, representatives are also on track to further expand casino-style gambling to some veterans' organizations like American Legion and VFW halls.

The amendment would allow a veterans' organization to operate "a gaming establishment with no table games and not more than 5 slot machines" for only its members in good standing if it secures a "limited slot machine license" from the Gaming Commission. The House adopted McMurtry's amendment without discussion during its consideration of a sports betting bill Thursday afternoon.

When Massachusetts legalized casino-style gambling a decade ago, lawmakers approved a framework that includes up to three resort-style casinos and one slots parlor. Two of the three casino licenses have been issued, to MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, and Plainridge Park Casino holds the lone slots-only license.

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Under McMurtry's amendment, any veterans' organization that operates slots machines would have to annually pay a 5 percent tax on their profits. Gross gaming revenue is taxed at a rate of 49 percent for the slots parlor at Plainridge Park and at a rate of 25 percent for MGM and Encore.

The money generated by slot machines at a veterans' organization "shall be the property of the limited slot machine licensee, and shall be used for charitable, fraternal or civic purposes, including, but not limited to, veterans' benefits," the amendment says.

In order to qualify for slot machines under McMurtry's amendment, a veterans' group would have to be active for the previous five years, be approved by a local licensing authority and conform with rules and regulations that the amendment tasks the Gaming Commission with producing. No one younger than 21 would be allowed in the building when a slot machine is in use at a veterans' organization facility.

Written by Colin A. Young/SHNS

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