Launch Timeline Announced for Massachusetts Sports Betting

Sports betting in Massachusetts could launch at casinos in January and online by late February if all goes smoothly with the state regulatory process. 

Retail sportsbooks at the state’s three casinos and two simulcasting facilities would open first under a loose timeline shared today at a meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), with up to five retail sportsbooks allowed by law. A launch of up to 15 mobile licenses – two for each casino and one per simulcast hall, plus seven mobile licenses untethered to those retail locations – would follow.

The plan, shared by MGC Executive Director Karen Wells, would allow casinos to launch retail sports betting in early January under licenses awarded in December.  Mobile sports betting would launch mid to late February under licenses awarded earlier that month. Wells told the commission that the proposed timeline would be the soonest that sports betting could launch in the commonwealth. 

The MGC did not officially agree to the timeline at today’s meeting. The commission instead plans to continue reviewing the proposal in the coming days, as expected. 

“This is not a definitive timeline,” MGC Executive Director Karen Wells told the commission. “This is a jumping-off point. It also highlights some compression points on the work the commission needs to do.” 

The MGC has discussed the staggered launch of retail and mobile sportsbooks for weeks as it tries to bring sports betting in line with a 2011 expanded gaming law that brought legal casino gambling to the commonwealth. 

Massachusetts Sports Betting: Application Process

No Massachusetts sports betting licenses have been approved. They won’t be approved until the MGC has an application process in place. That process began today when the MGC reviewed and approved an application form that would work for both mobile and retail licensing. 

The 22-page form, which was edited from a draft during today’s meeting, will now be posted for public comment. As written, it would require each retail and mobile applicant to complete seven sections that address each of the following: 

  • General information (name and type of business)
  • Sports wagering experience and expertise
  • Economic impact on the commonwealth (employment opportunities, projected revenue) 
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion (willingness to foster diversity and inclusion in their workforce) 
  • Responsible gaming policies
  • Technology (including geofencing plan)
  • Suitability (including corporate integrity) 

Applicants for both retail and mobile licensing will be required to pay a $200,000 nonrefundable fee to have their application considered by the MGC.

Massachusetts Sports Betting: Licensing Update

Massachusetts’ 2022 sports betting law requires that retail and mobile licensees pay $5 million for a five-year renewable license. A temporary license, once available, will cost $1 million for one year. 

A snag in the regulatory process involving temporary licensing surfaced in September when regulators realized there is no cap on temporary licenses for untethered mobile operators in state law. Without a cap, companies with temporary licenses that don’t make the final cut for one of the seven untethered licenses would have to shut down operations in the state. They would also each lose their $1 million nonrefundable licensing fee. 

A roundtable discussion was held between the MGC and potential mobile operators in late September on the temporary licensing issue.

The commonwealth is expected to net between $35 million and $65 million a year or more, depending on adjusted gross receipts of licensed sportsbooks. State revenue will be based on a mobile sportsbook tax of 20% and a retail tax of 15%. 

Which Sportsbooks Are Expected to Launch In Massachusetts? 

Massachusetts sports betting will bring as many as 20 legal sportsbooks to the Bay State. The sportsbooks that will eventually launch are likely to be top-performing sportsbooks already live in neighboring states

DraftKings is based in Massachusetts and is established online in New Hampshire, New York, and Connecticut

FanDuel is online in both New York and Connecticut

Caesars Sportsbook is live in New York

– Other New York sportsbooks, including PointsBet, BetMGM, and BetRivers

Customer loyalty combined with a sportsbook’s ability to launch quickly could set those sportsbooks up for success as the MGC makes its licensing decisions in the months ahead. 

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Legislative Writer
Based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, Hanchett has been known to watch UK. basketball from time to time.

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