Massachusetts Sports Betting Handle Dips in May

Massachusetts sports betting generated $455 million in handle at retail and online sportsbooks in May, an 18 percent drop from April.

The May sports wagering revenue report released Thursday by the state’s Gaming Commission indicates that online sports betting handle from eight Massachusetts sportsbooks totaled $443.6 million in May, down from $546 million in April. Total sports wagering handle, including in-person betting at the state’s three casinos and online sportsbooks, totaled $454.9 million for May.

Retail sports betting handle at the state’s three casinos also decreased from the previous month, about 12.5 percent, with handle dipping from $13.02 million in April to $11.4 million in May.

The decrease occurred despite the Commonwealth adding two new online sportsbooks last month. Microbetting app Betr launched on May 8. Fanatics – one of two mobile apps partnered with Plainridge Park Casino – soft launched to existing merch customers on May 25.

The reason for the drop in handle can be explained at least partly by the sports calendar. April had the Final Four, the Masters, the start of MLB season, and the NFL Draft, and while the NBA and NHL playoffs span through both months, the Boston Bruins getting eliminated in the first round surely didn’t help handle at Massachusetts sportsbooks. The Celtics, meanwhile, lasted in the NBA Playoffs until May 29, when they were knocked out by Miami in Game 7 of the East Finals.

The Bruins being eliminated early didn't help Massachusetts sports betting revenue in May.
Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

State-by-state: Sports betting revenue tracker

DraftKings Leads Way in Massachusetts

Here is how the eight Massachusetts online sportsbooks performed in May:

SportsbookHandleHold %RevenueTax Collected
FanDuel $135.3M14.80%$19.7M$3.9M
BetMGM  $34.95M15.68%$5.39M$1.07M
Caesars$19M7.28%$1.3M $267,488
WynnBet $16.4M6.40%$1M$201,942
Barstool$16.02M11.42% $1.78M$356,994
Betr$592,965  7.94%$45,623 $9,124
Fanatics$123,108 34.01%$41.77 $8,354

Massachusetts Sports Betting Handles Tops $1.6B So Far

Massachusetts sports betting has generated over $1.6 billion in handle since retail sports betting launched Jan. 31 followed by a mobile launch on March 10, according to the MGC. Total revenue generated to date is approximately $168 million with an average hold of 9 percent.

Total state revenue – including taxes and assessments — collected from sports wagering operations to date is $33.57 million.

Massachusetts Regulators Drive Home Advertising Rules

Also on Thursday, the MGC met in public session to discuss how it may address sports betting advertising and promotions that suggest a sports bet can succeed, win or lose.

Although no specific examples were given, commission staff said some operators have tweaked win-or-lose advertising to skirt a prohibition on “free bet” or “free or risk” language under MGC regulation 205 CMR 256 governing Sports Wagering Advertising. Sports betting credits instead of a dollar-for-dollar refund, for example, is not implicitly a win for consumers, MGC legal staff Mina Makarious explained.

Any use of credits in the context of a win-or-lose promotion needs to be fully explained as part of the promotion, said Makarious. Full disclosure is required.

“Our read of this is, if there is a statement that a bet will be paid win or lose without any further context of what that means … it would be implying a bet being free of risk if there is no other language there,” such as a disclaimer about credits, he told the commission.

MGC Commissioner Jordan Maynard followed up by saying operators need to keep in mind that sports betting advertising is subject to review by the MGC.

“We are going to ensure that the patrons of the Commonwealth are protected and that they get the deals they are signing up for. And any violation … will be seriously dealt with,” he said.

“Now really the operators have the road map to all of the relevant regulatory provisions that capture our intent,” MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein concluded.

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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