At long last, there is some good news to report about the future of sports betting in Massachusetts. No, unfortunately this news doesn't include a concrete timeline for its rollout. The state has defaulted to "sometime in January 2023, maybe" without offering much clarification. However, we do know now that legal sports betting applications in Massachusetts have officially been submitted.
The deadline to apply for one of the state's licenses was Monday, November 21. And on Wednesday, November 23, Massachusetts announced that they have received a total of 15 applications across all of their licensing tiers.
This naturally incites the question everyone's been asking since Massachusetts signed sports betting into law more than a year ago only to drag their feet on the rollout: Does the latest news mean the state will have legal sports betting by the end of January 2023?
Who Submitted Legal Sports Betting Applications in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts received 15 total sports betting license applications this past week. But it sounds like they were expecting more. Below you can find the breakdown of who applied for them and which tier they're targeting.
- In-person betting licenses: Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor each applied for in-person betting licenses. This number could not be any higher as they are the only three entities the state is allowing to apply for in-person rights.
- Mobile betting licenses in partnership with the above casinos: Five commercial sportsbooks wound up applying for a mobile license they intend to use in partnership with the state's three soon-to-be licensed casinos. WynnBet and Caesars Sportsbook are expected to partner with Encore. BetMGM will partner with MGM Springfield. Finally, Penn Sports Interactive and Fanatics Sportsbook are partnering with Plainridge. Another sportsbook, bet365, filed to eventually sync up with Plainridge, but their application was granted an exception to the November 21 deadline.
- Independent mobile betting licenses: A total of six companies, meanwhile, applied for mobile sports betting licenses independent of any affiliation with a state casino: Bally Bet, Betr, Betway (DGC USA), DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet, according to ABC 10 in Boston.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will now evaluate these companies in the coming days. The expectation is that every sportsbook will be pushed through, because the state earmarked a total of seven independent mobile betting licenses for issue yet only received six applications.
Regardless, everyone who submitted an application also had to pony up a non-refundable $200,000 licensing fee. This means Massachusetts sports betting applications have generated around $3 million in revenue for the state—a tiny fraction of what they stand to make each year once the sports betting system is officially up and running.
Are Sportsbooks Lower on the Massachusetts Sports Betting Market Than Expected?
With a flagship market like Boston under their umbrella, Massachusetts was billed as one of the most desirable legal sports betting destinations among holdout states before they signed a bill into law. But their inability to hammer out a concrete rollout date coupled with a fewer number of sports betting applications than anticipated has many wondering whether the market may have been overvalued.
We default to "no" on this topic.
The process behind the Massachusetts sports betting applications has been an ambiguous calamity since it started. The state couldn't even spit out an application deadline until recently. That likely left many sportsbooks scrambling and unable to fulfill all the requirements of the process in time. As ABC 10 in Boston noted, there was interest from at least two dozen sportsbooks in submitting an application. The number of actual submissions would have likely wound up much higher if Massachusetts had given more notice.
Still, it's tough not to approach the situation with at least some concern. There has been a shockingly limited amount of transparency when it comes to the Massachusetts sports betting rollout. The state has also proposed a handful of wonky parameters surrounding the release, such as staggered debut debates for sportsbooks. This led FanDuel and DraftKings to push for a universal launch date from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission—a matter that remains unresolved, mind you.
So...When will Sports Betting in Massachusetts Begin?
Good luck finding a definitive answer to this question. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been pressed by everyone from lawmakers to sportsbooks and casinos to the media, and they've yet to offer an ironclad timetable.
"Sometime in January 2023" continues to be their most transparent refrain, but given how many times the rollout has already been pushed back, we're skeptical Massachusetts sports betting will be up in time for the Super Bowl in February, let alone ready in just a few short weeks from this writing.
In the meantime, residents of Massachusetts have alternatives they are able to explore. They can visit neighboring states such as Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware to place their wagers. And they can also sign up for an account with any of the sites that appear in our reviews of the top online sportsbooks. Either option offers a good workaround to the enduring uncertainty surrounding Massachusetts legal sports betting.
And yet, this continued ambiguity is not without silver linings. The Massachusetts sports betting applications are actually in. That really happened. And that should, in turn, guarantee sports betting will go live in Massachusetts within the next few months. Hopefully.
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