State Lawmakers Pass Sports-betting and Mental-health Bills, Among Other Measures

BOSTON — In a legislative session that stretched well into the early hours of Monday morning, state lawmakers approved a raft of bills, including the legalization of sports gambling in Massachusetts and action to bolster mental healthcare.

According to the Boston Globe, the gaming legislation allows betting on professional and collegiate sports, but excludes betting on colleges in Massachusetts, unless they are competing in national tournaments. It also bans the use of credit cards to place bets.

If signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker, Massachusetts will join 30 states and Washington, D.C., in allowing for sports gambling, according to the American Gaming Assoc.

The sweeping mental-health bill mandates insurance coverage for an annual mental-health wellness exam and ensures compliance with the state’s mental-health parity laws, among other measures, the Globe noted.

However, Massachusetts lawmakers failed to strike a deal on a massive economic-development package, including $1 billion in tax relief, amid concerns over what the state can afford.

Among other action, lawmakers approved language that would retool the state’s firearm laws in the wake of a Supreme Court decision expanding gun rights across the country; approved an $11.3 billion infrastructure and transportation borrowing bill, including $275 million in funding to extend east-west passenger rail service; and approved a compromise package of reforms to the state’s marijuana industry that cracks down on steep local fees and steers a significant portion of the state excise tax on recreational cannabis sales into a fund for disenfranchised cannabis entrepreneurs, the Globe reported.