The Massachusetts Gaming Commission met Thursday and proponents of sports betting hoped there would be some sign of a timeframe for a launch.
They were disappointed.
After more than two hours of discussion on other gaming-related topics, and then a break, the commission began talking about Massachusetts sports betting. It became clear almost immediately there’s a lot to be worked out. Just because the state legislature burned the midnight oil in order to pass a bill, does not mean Massachusetts residents are going to have sports betting apps like DraftKings Massachusetts any time soon.
Perhaps the biggest question the commission faces is whether there will be a universal start date for everyone, will the existing brick-and-mortar locations be able to launch first or will Massachusetts go with some version of ready when you are?
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Massachusetts Sports Betting: Universal Start Date or Not?
Unlike states such as Ohio, where the legislature has not capped the number of mobile providers, Massachusetts is allowing for only seven mobile providers who are not connected to one of the state’s five licensed physical facilities. Details about how the licensing decisions are to be made, what the application process is going to look like, and whether MassGaming will be able to vet the applicants in-house or bring in an outside firm, all have to be worked out.
Executive Director Karen Wells said the commission is also likely to need more help to better vet MA betting apps and products.
Wells also wants the commission to get a notice of intent up to get a sense of how many mobile operators may be interested in applying for Massachusetts licenses. That will give a sense of how drawn out the application process will be and how many man-hours will be needed to go through the applications.
Figuring Out the Licensing
The commission also needs to determine how closely the licensing of sports betting providers can mirror the licensing of gaming companies a few years back, or if the entire process needs to be different.
It does appear, however, that MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, and Plainridge Park in Plainville may be able to launch the fastest, with Raynham Park and Suffolk Downs in the mix. These current licensees will hold a roundtable with the commission on Aug. 18.
It’s not too early for them to suggest opposition to a universal start date, which could mean tens of millions in revenue if they can launch before DraftKings Sportsbook Massachusetts, FanDuel and Caesars enter the mobile market.
In a recent BetMassachusetts sports betting survey, nearly 2 in 5 (37%) of the state’s sports bettors anticipate betting at least weekly and another 2 in 5 (38%) anticipate betting once a month to multiple times a year.