State senators have until Tuesday to propose changes to sports betting


State senators have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to propose amendments to the Ways and Means Committee-approved sports betting bill, which the Senate is expected to debate Thursday.

The Senate on Monday afternoon set the deadline for amendments to the long-awaited Statutory Betting Act (S 2844), which are expected to be debated and passed on Thursday.

The Senate bill was positively advanced by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Friday without opposition from its 17 members. Twelve senators voted in favor, four — Sens. Barry Finegold, Patricia Jehlen, John Keenan and Ryan Fattman — reserved their rights and did not weigh for or against, and Sen. Adam Hinds voted unavailable as of Monday afternoon, according to the committee’s voting information.

Bettors have been eagerly awaiting the Senate move on sports betting for more than a year. The House of Representatives has twice approved the language to legalize the activity, including as a standalone bill that passed 156-3 in July, but the Senate has long seemed far less interested in the issue.

An Intelligence Service poll of senators last month found that at least 60% support the concept, and no senators said they were openly opposed. Senate Speaker Karen Spilka said she is waiting for consensus among senators before introducing a sports betting bill.

There appear to be a number of significant differences between the bill the Senate will debate Thursday and the legislation the House of Representatives easily passed in July, most notably the Senate bill banning college athletics betting and the higher ones the Senate is proposing tax rates. The Gambling Commission, which would charge both branches with regulating sports betting, has flagged the approval of the slot machine bill in veteran posts statewide as something that would add “a lot more complexity” to their job.

Differences between the House and Senate bills would likely need to be resolved by a six-member conference committee before July 31, when formal legislation for the year ends.


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