For all we know about legal online sports betting in Massachusetts, there is one thing about which we've remained in the dark: its rollout date. The state has taken their time in determining one. It's a unique approach. Many other states have pinpointed a date months in advance, including the recently opened-for-business Ohio. Yet, Massachusetts online sports betting has been a different story.
At long last, however, the mystery is about to be solved. Kind of.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has provided a tentative date for the launch of retail sports betting and online sports betting in 2023. Granted, "tentative" does not mean definitive. But it sure as anything beats the alternative, which was no timeline for a sports betting launch at all.
So when exactly will Massachusetts sports betting go live? Read on to find out.
Massachusetts Sports Betting to Launch by the End of January, But Online Wagering will be Delayed
As relayed by the folks over at Boston.com, the 2023 Massachusetts sports betting launch will take place on Tuesday, January 31, beginning at 10 a.m. EST. That's when state residents will be free to visit one of the licensed retail sportsbooks, which will be exclusively located within casinos for the time being. In fact, Massachusetts will only have three on-site sportsbooks open to start the launch. They are:
- Encore Boston Harbor (Located in Everett)
- Plainridge Park Casino (Located in Plainville)
- MGM Springfield (Located in Springfield)
Other retail sportsbooks are expected to follow. But as we have explained before, the process of securing a Massachusetts sports betting license is filled with obstacles. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has gone over applications with a fine tooth comb, and their standards are high. To date, they have publicly questioned and called out numerous applicants for behavioral and operational red flags. Not only that, but the MGM Springfield sportsbook is the only one that received unanimous approval from the board.
As for online sports betting throughout Massachusetts, well, that won't be up and running for another few months. At the moment, it looks like the online sports betting launch will take place sometime in March, but the exact date is yet to be determined. Reporting for Boston.com, here's Hayden Bird with all the details we know right now:
"While in-person betting begins in January, mobile betting will have to wait until March for its rollout. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, tasked with building a new sports betting regulatory system from scratch, elected to stagger the launch of the two due to differing oversight requirements."
Make no mistake, staggering the launches was considered a controversial decision. Massachusetts has done it anyway. And it's no secret as to why.
Why Massachusetts Online Sports Betting is Receiving a Staggered Launch
If the Massachusetts Gaming Commission was catering to all the sports betting stakeholders, they would not have scheduled a January 31 launch for in-person wagering. Online sportsbooks have staunchly opposed the staggered rollout plan. They argue that it gives brick-and-mortar sportsbooks an unfair advantage when building clientele. And they might have a point.
Customers will gravitate to the sportsbooks located in the three licensed casinos, because those are their only options. Many of those customers will set up house accounts and capitalize on grand-opening promotions. And while bettors are known to sign up with more than one sportsbook, some will invariably just stick with the first one they choose. By staggering the Massachusetts online sports betting rollout, the state isn't giving mobile odds providers the same initial crack at courting customers.
Many officials within Massachusetts will push back against this sentiment. It would be one thing if certain online sportsbooks were opening before others. In this case, though, only in-person options will be available. And knowing that more than three-quarters of all sports bets placed in the United States are processed online, Massachusetts sports betting business should inevitably find its way to mobile providers.
But there's some flaws in this logic, too. Depending on the casino, brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will offer the ability to pre-load your bet on a mobile app. That will seem like a form of online sports betting to many. With that said, because users cannot actually process those pre-loaded bets until they're on-site, it doesn't qualify as mobile sports wagering.
Regardless, Massachusetts isn't staggering rollouts to help give in-person sportsbooks an edge. They only care about giving residents access to Super Bowl betting. The NFL will hold their annual championship extravaganza on Sunday, February 12. That weekend is known as the most lucrative betting window in North American sports. Last year, an estimated 30-plus million Americans wagered nearly $8 billion on the Super Bowl, according to AmericanGaming.org. Massachusetts clearly wants to ensure they're getting a cut of the pie. Delaying all sports betting launches until the entire infrastructure was ready would have cost them boatloads of cash.
When Will Massachusetts Have an Online Sports Betting Launch Date?
Answering this question is tough. "Sometime probably in March" is essentially all the information we've been given.
Mind you, that timeline isn't a lock. Massachusetts has experienced delays in the sports betting rollout process before. It could certainly happen again.
In the meantime, people from Massachusetts are free to explore our reviews of the top online sportsbooks. This extensive catalog is chock full of information on the best online betting sites in 2023, many of which allow residents from Massachusetts to set up and service an account.
Short of driving across state lines, this is the best alternative to betting on the 2023 Super Bowl online while in Massachusetts.
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that meets all of your sports betting needs:
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