A New Launch Date Has Been Set for Legal Sports Betting in Massachusetts

Paolo Go
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
A New Launch Date Has Been Set for Legal Sports Betting in Massachusetts

At long last, there is some good news on the subject of sports betting in Massachusetts: A launch date has officially been set. And it's soon.

How soon? Well, let's just say Masschusetts legal sports betting could go live by the end of January 2023. And no, we're not kidding. With that said, we understand why you might think this is a joke. It came as a shock to us, too.

Just a few weeks ago, the legal sports betting process for Massachusetts hit another snag. The state had yet to define what a permanent sports betting license would look like and who would quality to earn it. At the time, it looked like the chance for legal sports betting would implode. Experts throughout the industry said they wouldn't be surprised if Massachusetts failed to introduce it before 2024.

What's changed since then? And more importantly, is there a catch to the January 2023 rollout of Massachusetts sports betting? Let's find out together.

Why Is Sports Betting in Massachusetts Suddenly on the Fast Track?

As recently as a few days ago, there was no concrete Massachusetts sports betting timeline. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission had been unable to settle on dates, in large part because of all the work that still needed to be done. Anything before 2024 was seemingly too ambitious.

Then, on Friday, October 7, they reached an agreement, according to NPR Boston: In-person sports betting will be available in late January at casinos while mobile sports betting will go live sometime in March. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission then proceeded to release "a survey that it’s requiring companies applying for a sports wagering operator license and vendors to those potential licensees to complete. The survey seeks specific company information before the full applications are due."

This is a huge step for sports betting in Massachusetts—not to mention an unforeseen one. And prospective gamblers throughout the state may have the NFL to thank.

Apparently, betting on the Super Bowl was a big factor in the Massachusetts Gaming Commission's decision, per NPR Boston. They recognized that billions of dollars—that's billion with a b—are wagered on the NFL's big game every year. In Massachusetts alone, bettors are expected to place nine figures worth of wagers on the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. That number will only mushroom if a team fro the tri-state area (New England Patriots, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Philadephia Eagles, etc.) makes it all the way to the championship round.

The state of Massachusetts would clearly prefer to capitalize on that business. After all, failing to launch sports betting wouldn't actually stop those wagers from being placed. Residents could simply travel to New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware or Washington, D.C. to submit bets. More conveniently, everyone in Massachusetts has the option of signing up with one of the reputable sites that appear in our reviews of the top online sportbooksKnowing the state stood to miss out on what would be millions of dollars in tax revenue, the gaming commission elected to angle for a sudden and accelerated rollout. The question now becomes: Will it work?

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Some Remain Skeptical that Massachusetts Can Rollout Sports Betting Before the Super Bowl

Anyone who has followed the Massachusetts sports betting issue for the past few months will approach the latest news with at least a dab of skepticism.

How can the state go from not having a timetable to setting a rollout date less than 12 weeks away. The licensing process in other states typically takes a year or more. 

It could be the same story in Massachusetts. Many officials within the state aren't convinced the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will be able to review and approve the requisite licensing applications while also overseeing the implementation of sports betting and the partnerships that will be born between casinos and retail sportsbooks as a result. 

In fact, an informal poll conducted in Boston, the biggest city in Massachusetts, suggests that a majority of residents don't expect the state to meet their timeline for legal sports betting.

Don't Worry: Massachusetts Sports Betting is Within Reach

Despite the pessimism running rampant among Massachusetts residents, we are actually more optimistic about their sports betting timeline. Setting up legal sports betting in casinos doesn't take as long as figuring out how to implement online sports betting. The casinos are already set up to handle gaming. They have the cash on hand to cover bets. This is almost purely a matter of paperwork and tinkering with how much money they carry on-site. It isn't unreasonable to expect Massachusetts casinos can rollout legal sports betting in a matter of months.

Of course, the Massachusetts target date for online sports betting is a different story. March does, indeed, feel too ambitious. That's fewer than 20 weeks away—roughly five months. Processing those licenses takes longer. There will be more applicants, since there are many more online sportsbooks and places that will want to host betting kiosks than physical casinos. On top of that, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission ensure that small businesses applying for kiosks have the cash flow required to actually house them. They also need to set up an infrastructure to monitor how the online gaming companies are taxed, how they advertised, how they partner with casinos and so on.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one works for all your sports betting needs:

Meet the author

Paolo Go

Paolo brings a wealth of basketball and hockey knowledge to his expert analysis of the NBA and NHL. With over 7 years experience as a sports writer, he provides seasoned advice and decisive picks. Paolo got his start locally in Toronto before joining prominent outlets...

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