Temporary Licensing Scenarios Give Pause to Mass. Sports Betting Commission

Temporary Licensing Scenarios Give Pause to Mass. Sports Betting Commission
By Lou Monaco
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

People hoping that a specific launch timetable would be announced during Thursday’s latest Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) virtual public meeting did not get their wish.

Instead, another hurdle was thrown in the way of retail or mobile Massachusetts sports betting moving forward. 
 
“Today is the day we are being educated about the temporary licensing process,” MGC Chairman Cathy Judd-Stein said in her introductory remarks.

Stumbling Block at MA Sports Betting Meeting

After establishing a $1 million temporary licensing fee for one year, with the stipulation that MGC can revoke or deny a license for a variety of reasons, the hurdle and the progress of the meeting came to a standstill.

Regulators were considering a scenario in which up to 30 Massachusetts sports apps could go live under temporary licenses, but those that didn’t earn permanent licenses would have to shut down within a year, as no more than 15 mobile sportsbooks can go live under state law. Eight of the 15 will have to partner with existing brick-and-mortar facilities.

Massachusetts became the 36th state to legalize sports wagering on Aug. 10. The legislate passed the bill in the wee hours of Aug. 1.

Direction at Moment in Mass. Appears to Be a First

No other state jurisdiction in the nation that has awarded retail or online sportsbook licenses has gone this route, while undergoing the process of getting sports wagering up and running within its particular state.

Officials during the meeting brought up a slew of issues such as how could account holders withdraw money from shuttered accounts, how would they receive payments if they had a future bet and won, etc., which would result in more problems and issues for the consumer.

For good reason, the chairman agreed. She called this “untenable.” 
 
“With sportsbook licenses capped at the beginning and not at the end, we have a real challenge here,” Judd-Stein said. “I’m not sure today we can resolve all these issues as we are going to need additional legal input and to see how we can proceed as we move forward.”

However, Judd-Stein did caution that scenario potentially could move forward, with the law in place.

“If retail goes forward first, how long will it take for mobile to begin? The public wants to know,” MGC Commissioner Bradford Hill said. “We know today we can’t give them a final date. Can we give them an expectation? We need at some point to get some dates/times out there.”

The hope is that one week from today that could happen as the MGC will hold an in-person roundtable related to mobile/digital sports wagering operators in the Gardner Auditorium of the Massachusetts State House. That meeting is set for Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9 a.m.

A total of 42 entities filed a formal Notice of Intent last month to offer sports betting services in the state. The list includes: a partner company of Boston-based DraftKings, PointsBet, BetMGM, Penn Sports (Barstool), Caesars Sportsbook, WynnBET (Encore Boston Harbor Casino), Bally’s and 888.

BetMassachusetts.com will update you again after next Thursday's meeting as well as provide the best Massachusetts sports betting promos.

In the meantime, the citizens of the state wait.

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Contributors

Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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