Should Massachusetts Permanently Legalize and Impose a Tax on Sports Fantasy Betting?

Source: Boston Globe

By Eileen M. Donoghue

Daily fantasy sports has become a growing part of people’s pastimes and an exciting new part of our innovation economy. It flourishes worldwide, with 59 million people playing last year in just the United States and Canada. Moreover, DraftKings, the largest operator in America, is based in Boston.

Last year, the Massachusetts Legislature temporarily legalized daily fantasy sports, online games where players create fantasy teams consisting of real-life athletes and play for prizes based on their real-life performance. We established a commission to do a deep dive into online gaming and offer a permanent solution. I cochaired this commission, which concluded that daily fantasy sports could be carefully and responsibly legalized to operate safely. The commission also recognized that daily fantasy sports has significant potential to produce local jobs and generate new revenue for the state.

Like all gaming in Massachusetts, daily fantasy sports should be taxed at a fair rate to defray expenses that the state could incur from its activities. Operators of the games currently pay zero taxes on their revenues in Massachusetts, in stark contrast with our casinos and slots parlors that must pay between 25 percent and 49 percent in taxes. Permanently legalizing daily fantasy sports is not without risk, but, if done right, could provide distinct benefits to the state while allowing millions of fans to continue playing a game they love.