Massachusetts Gaming Commission Meets and Resolves Some Sports Betting Issues
October 27, 2022
In recent weeks, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has been getting a lot of criticism over its ability to resolve important issues related to sports betting in the state. The issues at hand have been ongoing since Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the state’s sports betting legislation in August of 2022.
To date, the unresolved issues have been focused on setting a sports betting launch date and trying to figure out how sports betting licenses would be allocated and rolled out. Note: Type 1 licenses will be issued to retail casinos, Type 2 licenses will be issued to race tracks and simulcasting facilities, and Type 3 licenses will be issued to online/mobile sports betting operators.
What Got Resolved at a Recent MGC Meeting?
In September, the MGC requested that any entity interested in offering sports betting to Massachusetts residents should submit a scoping survey. The purpose of the survey is to identify legitimate sports betting resources. In fact, thirty scoping surveys were received with three of them coming from the state’s retail casinos, three coming from the state’s horse racing facility, and the rest coming from mobile sports betting operators.
Based on this information, it would seem clear that the three retail casinos and three race tracks will likely receive licensing. Additionally, the MGC is authorized to grant licenses to as many as seven (7) mobile sports betting operators. Clearly, quite a few sports betting brands will be left on the sidelines if they can’t partner with retail operators or land one of the coveted mobile betting licenses. The list of potential mobile licensees includes top brands like Fanduel, DraftKings, Caesars, BetMGM, and BetRivers.
With this information in tow, the field of prospective sports betting operators is clear. Final applications are due by November 21, 2022.
What Did not Get Resolved?
The MGC still has a long way to go. They will hopefully make more progress when they meet next on October 27.
The two issues that are drawing the most interest are the determination of an official launch date and whether all operators would get the opportunity to launch at the same time. So far, no date has been proposed for launch. Also, the only launch proposal submitted made mentioned that perhaps retail operations could start in January 2023 with mobile operations starting one month later.
Massachusetts sports bettors have been holding out hope that the formal launch would come in time for the start of the NFL playoffs. Starting by the Super Bowl would be considered acceptable. Unfortunately, it is starting to look like both of the targets are falling away. At this point, the best guess would be that operators will be taking bets by March, just in time for the NCAA BB March Madness Tournament.
As for the staggered launch, the idea does not sit well with mobile operators. They would be denied the chance to start taking sports bets on a level playing field.
For now, legislators and sports bettors in Massachusetts will eagerly await the outcome of the October 27th meeting.