According to information released just days ago by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, 42 organizations have formally expressed interest in submitting an application for a sports betting license in the state. These organizations include sports betting operators FanDuel and DraftKings as well as casino operators like MGM Resorts International.
As it attempts to iron out the processes and regulations for managing the emerging new industry, the Commission set a deadline of Wednesday, August 31 for enterprises to submit notices of intent for the licenses. Currently, there are more than 40 brands on the list of possible operators. The new law that allows betting on collegiate and professional sports permissible in the Commonwealth does not, however, guarantee them a license in light of this.
Potential candidates include MGM Springfield and the other two casinos in the state, Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor. The five retail outlets participated in a panel conversation last month with regulatory agencies regarding their intentions for offering sports betting products in the state. Other interested firms included simulcasting facilities Suffolk Downs and Raynham Park.
Regulators to Issue Three Different Types of Sports Betting Operator Licenses
The new sports betting regulatory proposals stipulate three types of licenses:
1st Category: The three casino and slot machine operators are currently under category one, and they are allowed to provide both physical betting options and online betting through a maximum of two uniquely branded smartphone apps.
2nd Category: A maximum of one independently branded app or platform may be used by live horse racing tracks and simulcasting venues to perform online gambling and in-person betting.
3rd Category: Operators that provide sports betting using a mobile application or online portal are eligible to receive up to seven licenses under Category 3.
The legislation allows for 15 licenses for online sports betting, but eight of those licenses must be linked to a physical partner. The other seven are up to bidding wars. Licenses for sports betting will be granted to each casino and racetrack in the state.
License applications have been made by dozens of operators – both those offering typical online casino games – such as no deposit free spins slots and popular table games like blackjack and roulette, and sports betting. Along with the retail gaming establishments, well-known sportsbook operators such as Caesars Sportsbook, Bally’s Interactive, Rush Street Interactive, and PointsBet, along with the previously mentioned DraftKings and FanDuel, have filed notifications of intent as of this time.
Given that more than the required number of operators is anticipated to apply, the bid for the category three digital licenses is anticipated to become a contentious affair. The state regulator is also anticipated to host a second roundtable with businesses interested in this kind of licensing. The Commission now has the responsibility of coming up with more than 200 proposed laws, adopting industry-recognized standards, establishing a procedure to examine and license applications, appointing a head of sports betting, and setting up public hearings.
The final applicant count is markedly higher than the 12 organizations that were first disclosed on August 26. This would suggest that many stakeholders hurried to submit applications at the last minute. Barstool Sportsbook, Hard Rock Digital 888, BetFred, Bet365, Unibet, and Resorts World Bet are just a few of the other names to have rushed in their filings at the 11th hour.
The gaming commission is expected to offer an update on the process at the following meeting later in September. A difficult regulatory road lies ahead. According to the procedure casinos went through when they initially opened in the Bay State, businesses applying for one of the seven digital wagering licenses may anticipate lengthy application processes.
Sports Betting was Legalized in Massachusetts Courtesy of a Bill Passed in 2022
Massachusetts allows sports betting, however, there are no sportsbook websites or physical establishments. A sports betting measure was approved in the last minutes of the 2022 session and was signed on August 10 by Governor Charlie Baker.
During the same time frame, the Senate also had an active sports betting proposal, but it ran into similar parliamentary roadblocks. Despite the fact that state representatives passed a sports betting bill by a lopsided 156-3-1 margin in July 2021, the bill stalled in the Senate due to the aforementioned budget concerns. On August 1st, a late-night agreement led to a yes vote. One day prior to the 10-day deadline, Governor Baker signed it.
When can Mass Punters Expect to Start Betting on Sports Legally?
Sportsbooks may be found both online and offline in Massachusetts, and they should start operating in the early part of 2023. Before internet sports betting launches, retail sports betting may. On September 8, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission convened to examine the possibility of a common launch date for online sportsbooks.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission also pleaded for more time as they attempted to establish a launch schedule — late 2022 at the soonest. The state gaming commission did point out that it took other states eight months or more to legalize sports betting.
A launch would now likely only happen in early 2023. Online and live sports betting are both permitted in Massachusetts thanks to a new law on the subject. Before Massachusetts online sports betting can go live, there must be laws, regulations, licensing, and testing to ensure things transpire smoothly and safely when the market does go live.