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When Will the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Pull Trigger on Sports Betting Legislation

September 1, 2022

It took quite a while for the Massachusetts legislature to finally come together and pass sports betting legislation. In fact, it took them the better part of four (4) years. When they finally gave the green light, racetracks and casinos throughout the state immediately went to work lining up retail/mobile partners and arranging to have retail sportsbooks built and ready for action.

There was a recent meeting was held on August 18, 2022, between Massachusetts casino owners and representatives from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The purpose of the meeting was to move the ball forward on setting sports betting rules and regulations so that sportsbooks can start opening throughout the state.

On the racetrack/casino side of the aisle, the following properties were represented in the meeting Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, Plainridge Park Casino, Raynham Park, and Suffolk Downs.

The key points brought up in the meeting covered the gambit of what should eventually evolve into the regulatory platform the Commission will employ for sports betting. Topics put on the table included the following:

  • When would the licensing application process be ready to go
  • A idea of what the licensing fee schedule would be
  • An attempt to get a general idea of when the state's retail/mobile sportsbooks could start taking bets
  • A discussion about the readiness of the racetracks and casinos to start taking bets

Operators Ready to Go

During the meeting, leaders from the operator side piped in about where they currently stand in terms of preparedness to start taking bets.

Plainridge Park general manager North Grounsell took the opportunity to let the commission know how the commission's inability to lay down time guidelines was the only thing keeping casinos from building their retail sportsbooks. In fact, the GM told the Commission that a target launch date would prompt “a lot of other decisions operationally that need to be made.”

An MGM Springfield representative told the commission that their property would be ready to toll within 90 days after receiving a license. When Encore Boston Harbor senior vice president Jacqui Krum had the floor, she reiterated what the MGM Springfield rep said. She told the commission that the casino would start the hiring process as soon as they had a prospective start date for new employees.

The Commission Sends Out for Operator Intent Informtion

To be fair, the Commission has recently sent out an alert (via an online form) to sports betting concerns, requesting information regarding interest and intent to participate in the Massachusetts sports betting community.

As a reminder, the law passed by the Massachusetts legislature will allow for seven (7) mobile sports betting operators to enter the fray independently. Another eight (8) licenses will be issued to racetrack and casino owners.

Clearly, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. The Commission has set a date of September 8, 2022, for the next meeting between the commission and racetrack/casino owners.

 


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