Massachusetts Sports Betting to Begin Soon, State Finalizing Regulations

Massachusetts sports betting is making its final approach to launch. With state gaming regulators expected to sign off on the governing rules that will dictate how expanded gaming functions, the first legal sports wagers in the commonwealth could come before January ends.

Massachusetts sports betting MGC Encore Boston
Massachusetts sports betting MGC Encore Boston
The odds of the WynnBet Sportsbook at Encore Boston Harbor opening before February 2023 are good. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is targeting a soft launch of in-person betting for January 30, with a full start of operations planned for the following day. (Image: Encore Boston Harbor)

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has been conducting a marathon regulatory review of sports betting policies since early December. The commission has also considered numerous sports betting licensing applications from interested entities.

Save for a holiday break, the MGC has spent most workdays further considering the recommended sports betting regulations. The conditions were partly determined through the 2022 sports betting bill Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed into law last August.

Smaller regulatory details, like how sportsbooks field bets and pay out winning wagers, have been crafted by MGC staff, with other sports betting states serving as blueprints.

January Debut

So far, the MGC has approved Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park for Category 1 sportsbook licenses. The permits allow the casinos to operate in-person retail sportsbooks and partner with as many as two online platforms.

The state has designated WynnBet, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, Penn Sports Interactive/Barstool Sportsbook, and Fanatics as Category 3 sports betting firms. Those concessions are tethered to the Category 1 sportsbook licenses. WynnBet is with Encore Boston, BetMGM with MGM Springfield, and Barstool and Fanatics are both partnering with Plainridge.

Massachusetts’ sports betting law allows for as many as seven fully online sportsbooks not tethered to a casino or racetrack. Companies seeking those licenses include FanDuel, DraftKings, Bally’s Interactive, PointsBet, Betway, and BetR.

The MGC is expected to consider and possibly approve sportsbook house rules during its meeting this Friday, January 20. If the commission ratifies the regulations, the MGC could certify the sportsbook licenses for the casinos and in-person betting during their meeting on January 25.

“After today, we will begin our overall determination of the applicants as a whole, and that will begin starting late tomorrow afternoon into the next day and ending, likely ending, on Friday,” MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said yesterday, as reported by the State House News Service in Massachusetts.

The state is targeting a soft launch of retail sports betting at the three casinos on January 30. If things go smoothly, the MGC says in-person betting could open to the public the following day, Tuesday, January 31.

March Online Goal

Though Massachusetts will likely have sports betting up and running in time for the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 12, online sportsbook operations won’t begin for at least another month.

The MGC is targeting March for the commencement of online sports betting.

Online betting dominates in-person betting in states where both wagering options are permitted. Massachusetts’ sports betting law requires that retail sportsbooks share 15% of their income with the state. Mobile operators will be taxed higher at 20%.

Regardless of the sports betting category, each entity deemed suitable for a sportsbook license will need to pay the state $5 million every five years for the privilege.

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