It’s been a while since we’ve discussed Massachusetts sports betting, but a lot has been happening in order for the state to begin accepting wagers in January. At least, that’s the plan. But the Massachusetts model is proposing a “staggered” launch between in-person and online bets. And not everyone is happy about that.
First of all, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has a tentatively time line for the launch of sports bets. Under that time line, residents could be placing bets as soon as the NFL playoffs in late January, but only at physical locations such as a casino. Online and mobile betting may then be up and running by March, just in time for betting on the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
To date, there have been 29 applications submitted for Massachusetts sports betting. Those applications are spread over the three license classifications being offered. Category 1 licenses will allow sports bets at casinos, while a Category 2 license would permit in-person betting at some horse and greyhound racing tracks. The Category 3 license is for those who provide mobile sports betting.
Currently, there are only six applications for Category 1 and 2 licenses. Applications were submitted by Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, Suffolk Downs, and others. That leaves a staggering 23 applications for mobile apps, with BallyBet, bet365, Betfred, BetMGM, Caesars, Mohegan Digital, PointsBet, and WynnBet in the running. As well as the usual suspects of DraftKings and FanDuel.
At least one applicant for a mobile betting license is not thrilled about a Massachusetts sports betting “staggered” launch. DraftKings has asking the Commission to reconsider the matter to allow mobile operators to launch when in-person betting begins in January. But after a brief discussion, it appears that is not something the Commission is prepared to do.
Commissioner Bradford Hill stated that he did not believe the matter needed further discussion, adding “I think we had a very good conversation back when we voted on this. Following research regarding a staggered launch, I feel very comfortable that what we did was the right thing to do.”
There are still a lot of regulations to get in place, and a lot could go wrong between now and the end of January. But if applications are approved and laws are in place, Massachusetts sports betting could be up and running in less than three months. At least, for those willing to visit a casino or race track.