After years of regulatory debate and political wrangling, Massachusetts lawmakers have officially launched the first phase of several in a legislative plan that will fully legalize sports betting and gaming throughout the state. This law, enacted on January 31, 2023, marks the most significant legal change in the Massachusetts gambling landscape since 2011, when the first casinos were authorized for construction. The possibility of new legislation sparked around 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, opening the federal definition of sports betting to many interpretations.
In the coming months, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will begin implementing different regulations on in-person betting and wagering as a part of the first regulatory phase. Once complete, the second phase will kick off by making mobile betting available via one of these six operators: DraftKings, FanDuel, Betr, Bally Sports, PointsBet and Betway. Despite the convenience of mobile betting, the law also comes with a certain set of stipulations.
Massachusetts residents are prohibited from betting on any in-state collegiate teams unless they are involved in a national tournament. Additionally, sports with results declared by an officiate or judge, namely the Olympics, chess or Esports, are also prohibited under the new law. With the first bets already being placed, Massachusetts now joins 32 other states and Washington, D.C., with legal, live sports betting markets, according to the American Gaming Association.
In December 2022, New Hampshire began offering open benefits enrollment to private and public employers, marking the first voluntary paid family and medical leave insurance program in the U.S. This legislation, aptly known as the Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan, was initially introduced back in 2019 as a part of a joint insurance proposal with fellow New England-based lawmakers in Vermont. What sets New Hampshire apart from other states with paid family and medical leave insurance laws already in place is that participation is completely optional.
The Granite State Plan does not require employers in both private and public sectors to enroll in a state-based insurance plan. With that, even if an employer chooses not to participate in the program, individuals working full-time will remain fully eligible to purchase a personal plan through the state’s insurance partner, MetLife. According to MetLife, the Granite State Plan provides up to 60% wage replacement to insured workers for up to six weeks per year.
State officials and lawmakers are now publishing a series of provisions in addition to other sources of guidance for employers and employees to follow. This guidance is expected to iron out any confusion surrounding the minor differences between the statute and the changes soon to follow, namely the exact scope of benefits made available per insurance provider.
New Hampshire-based employers should soon evaluate their options and decide whether to opt into the state-based insurance program or seek an alternative provider. Additionally, employers must also prepare to provide payroll deductions to employees who choose to opt in.
On January 23, 2023, after the state’s Supreme Court administered a long-awaited ruling, noncitizen residents may continue to vote in all future municipal elections in Montpelier, Vermont’s capital city. This case, prompted by several complaints, suggested such voting violated the state’s constitution. In 2021, the Vermont legislature approved two separate bills to alter the municipal charters of the capital city and Winooski, the most diverse communities in the state, allowing legal residents who may not be authorized U.S. citizens to vote. Despite these state provisions, federal law in the U.S. still prohibits noncitizens from voting in national elections for president, vice president, Senate or House of Representatives.
Montpelier City Council President Jack McCullough, who actively worked to uphold the bills, stated voters and local lawmakers supported the legislation by nearly a two-to-one margin. “We are gratified that our choice to welcome participation by all members of our community has been upheld by the Supreme Court. Our Declaration of Independence says that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and I believe that includes all our residents. I hope this will encourage more eligible voters to register, vote and fully participate in our democratic institutions,” stated McCullough, as reported by the Associated Press.
With this successful ruling, Montpelier and Winooski now join the company of over a dozen communities in several states, including New York and Maryland, allowing noncitizens to participate actively in local elections. Seven states in the U.S., including Arizona, Louisiana, North Dakota and Ohio, have regulatory measures that ban noncitizen voting, according to the group Americans for Citizen Voting.