Massachusetts Gaming Commission Approves Sports Betting Catalog, Players’ Association Raises Concerns

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has approved a sports wagering catalog, establishing what customers can and cannot bet on when retail sports betting launches on Jan. 31. Massachusetts mobile sports betting is expected to launch in early March.

Commissioners voted Tuesday on an initial bet menu for next week’s launch. Massachusetts bettors will be able to wager on a wide range of sports and entertainment options.

What’s on the Massachusetts Sports Wagering Catalog?

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has held several hearings over the past few weeks to nail down the rules and regulations for legal sports betting in Massachusetts. Now that commissioners have settled on a sports wagering catalog for next week’s launch, sports fans in the Bay State can start figuring out what bets they want to place come Jan. 31.

Bettors can wager on major leagues like the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB. Betting on most college sporting events is also allowed, although wagers on non-tournament games involving Massachusetts teams will not be allowed. Bets on league drafts will be allowed, as well as wagering on subjective awards like the NFL MVP. Wagering on entertainment awards shows such as the Oscars will also be allowed.

The MGC did not make any decisions on the Olympics and some non-mainstream sports like chess, cornhole, and esports. Commissioners wanted more time to discuss those particular events and the integrity standards and procedures of their governing bodies. There are some concerns about wagering on Olympic sports that feature judging, like gymnastics and figure skating. Additional discussion on the non-major sporting events will likely happen before mobile sports betting launches in March.

Folks can show up at one of Massachusetts’ three casinos starting at 10 a.m. ET on Jan. 31 to make their first legal sports bets in the state. The retail sports betting launch will happen after the NFC and AFC Championship games. However, Massachusetts residents will still have a chance to bet on Super Bowl 57,  set for Feb. 12.

Also read: Top 5 Weirdest Sports You Can Get on Legally at Sportsbooks

Massachusetts Sports Betting Rules Could Include Player Protections

With Massachusetts set to launch its sports betting market next week, there are concerns over the safety of athletes. Some fear that disgruntled bettors might target pro players and their families. The Players’ Association, a union representing the United States’ biggest sports leagues, is asking the MGC to consider player safety in its sports betting regulations.

mass sports betting,Bruins right wing David Pastrnak
Bruins fans will soon be able to bet legally on their team in Massachusetts (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Players’ Association is a collective that includes representatives from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and MLS. The organization submitted a request to the MGC calling on the state to include safeguards to limit possible threats made against players and their families by angry sports bettors.

“As professionals who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of excellence in their sport, their members believe that protecting the integrity of the game and ensuring they and their families are safe is paramount in any discussion of the prospect of administering legalized sports betting,” said Preti Strategies, a lobbying firm representing The Players’ Association.

The association proposed regulations to help protect players and their families. One example says a bettor who makes a threat against a player, team, or anyone else associated with the sport should face a permanent sports betting ban by the MGC.

The Players’ Association drafted regulatory language that the MGC might consider adopting.

“‘Prohibited conduct’ includes any statement, action, and other communication intended to influence, manipulate, or control a betting outcome of a sporting contest or of any individual occurrence or performance in a sporting contest in exchange for financial gain or to avoid financial or physical harm. ‘Prohibited conduct’ includes statements, actions, and communications made to a covered person by a third party, such as a family member or through social media,” The Players’ Association’s recommended language reads.

The five MGC commissioners seemed open to The Players’ Association’s request. However, there are concerns over whether the commission has the authority to ban someone solely on the grounds of being unruly at a sporting event or on social media. MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein also says it’s vital that the state does all it can to protect players, officials, and their families.

Also read: 11 Sports Betting Apps Expected To Launch in Mass

About the Author
C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a multimedia journalist currently residing in the Phoenix-Metro Area in Arizona. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He has recently dived into tribal casino news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career. Most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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