DraftKings and FanDuel Ask for Universal Launch Date of Massachusetts Online Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Oct 28, 2022 12:00 AM
Should Massachusetts online sports betting have a universal launch date?

Just when you think the timeline for sports betting in Massachusetts is finally set in stone, another curveball gets thrown. And when you really think about it, this is pretty fitting. The process of rolling out Massachusetts online sports betting, as well as Massachusetts retail sports betting, has included only headaches from the beginning. Why would the finish line be any different?

On the bright side, this latest hiccup should impact the actual legalization of Massachusetts online sports betting. It might, however, dictate which corporate sportsbooks commit to entering and staying in the market.

As reported by MassLive.com, both FanDuel and DraftKings have asked the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to tinker with their sports betting launch date. The two companies argue that a universal rollout date is better and more equitable for all involved rather than the staggered schedule initially put in place by the state.

You might be thinking: Why does this matter? Aren't FanDuel and DraftKings going to have a foot in the Massachusetts sports betting market regardless? The answer to the latter is a resounding "yes." But when you dig into the details, it turns out FanDuel and DraftKings might be onto something.

Current Timeline for Massachusetts Online Sports Betting

Current Timeline for Massachusetts Online Sports Betting

After much hemming and hawing, a launch date for sports betting in Massachusetts was at long last finalized in early October. As it stands, the state is rushing to have retail sportsbooks—i.e. on-site sportsbooks in casinos—open up shop sometime in January 2023. Roughly one month later, Massachusetts hopes to begin rolling out online sports betting with up to seven partners.

Two of these partners are expected to be FanDuel and DraftKings. After all, they are the two largest online sportsbook operators in the United States. At the moment, however, neither one of them knows when they'll be able to launch in Massachusetts.

Though the state has advertised February 2023 as their grand entry into online sports betting, this timeline doesn't include specific dates. They have instead indicated they will approve licenses and unveil operations as they go. This means that some online sportsbooks could be approved for launch on February 1, February 13, February 24 or whenever while others are given the all-clear in later months down the road.

DraftKings and FanDuel have requested a meeting at which the Massachusetts Gaming Commission reconsiders this staggered setup. While the two are direct competitors, they both agree that this fluid rollout plan stands to create an unfair sports betting market that hurts at least one of them.

This meeting in question is scheduled to take place sometime before the start of November, but it isn't clear whether the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is prepared to vote on the matter or just open to hearing arguments from DraftKings and FanDuel.

Here's Why DraftKings and FanDuel Oppose Massachusetts' Sports Betting Rollout

Many have been left wondering how a staggered rollout creates an unfair betting market. DraftKings, FanDuel and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission weren't immediately clear about the logic at play. In recent days, however, the two sportsbooks have started outlining how the current schedule can hurt them. DraftKings Senior Director of Legal and Government Affairs Chris Cipolla first laid the groundwork. He made it a point to tell officials every sportsbook should have to open its doors on the same day, otherwise the companies who set up shop will have already missed out on potential business.

“We found that in other jurisdictions that has worked and made sense and it ensures that nobody obtains a competitive advantage, an unfair competitive advantage when a new market opens,” he explained, Cipolla explained per MassLive.com “We do feel what’s most important is giving everybody a fair shot to launch, retail, mobile, untethered, tethered.”

Skeptics have pointed out this would be a temporary issue. But DraftKings and FanDuel have evidence to the contrary. From the same MassLive.com report:

"Cory Fox, vice president for product and new market compliance at FanDuel, urged commissioners to select a universal launch date. At a minimum, he said, all mobile sports wagering operators should start on the same day. Operators who have launched first, he said, 'have enjoyed significant, sustained advantage and market share versus operators who have launched only a few days or weeks later.' He said FanDuel’s experiences in 2019 in Pennsylvania and Indiana highlight the advantage companies get when they launch before competitors. In Pennsylvania, Fox said, FanDuel launched mobile sports wagering about three months before DraftKings, whereas in Indiana, DraftKings launched mobile sports betting approximately three weeks before FanDuel. Based on publicly available data, he said, FanDuel has maintained its position as market leader in Pennsylvania ever since, and DraftKings 'has continued to benefit from their early launch as well.'

This data makes sense. And it stands to impact smaller companies trying to enter the Massachusetts market more than FanDuel and DraftKings, who have larger reaches and a more entrenched customer base. But will the state agree?

Current Timeline for Massachusetts Online Sports Betting

What Will Massachusetts Do About Online Sports Betting Rollout?

There's no use hazarding a guess on this matter just yet. The next few weeks will be critical, as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission wades through the request.

Still, there's a good chance FanDuel and DraftKings are unsuccessful.

Massachusetts has expedited their rollout of on-site and online sports betting to capitalize on the NFL playoffs. They are already cutting that timeline close by having online sportsbooks begin business in February. Pushing the launch back even further so everyone starts at the same time would likely cost them a boatload of tax revenue.

Sports bettors in the state likely won't support a delay, either. It would mean they can't partake in online sports betting until likely March or later. They would still be free to visit retail sportsbooks in Massachusetts. They also have the option of joining up with a site from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks.

But again, Massachusetts already took forever to cobble together this staggered sports betting rollout. It's hard to imagine them acquiescing to DraftKings and FanDuel when they're technically already running behind.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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