MGM Casino Almost Missed Out on Massachusetts Sports Betting License

MGM Casino Almost Missed Out on Massachusetts Sports Betting License

When legal sports betting in Massachusetts opens for business, it will include a sportsbook launch at MGM Springfield, an MGM Resorts International-owned casino in the state. However, for a short time, this didn't appear to be the case. The MGM Springfield almost lost their Massachusetts sports betting license before they ever had the chance to officially get it.

Avid casino-goers needn't hold their breath. It all worked out in the end. MGM Resorts International was able to get the MGM Springfield a Massachusetts sports betting license after all. When the state launches legal sports gambling, the storied hotel and casino will be part of the festivities.

The issue? We still don't know when Massachusetts legal sports betting will officially launch. Equally important: The issues that MGM Resorts International faced aren't isolated to them. The entire application process has been deemed a headache by media outlets and companies who are vying for licenses.

Many view the lack of clarity on this matter as a harbinger of doom. But whether the hangups being reported now are a bad omen for sports betting in Massachusetts remains to be seen. Let's parse the details and see if we can find out.

How MGM Almost Lost Their Massachusetts Sports Betting License

It turns out MGM almost missed out on their sports betting license because of a forgotten deadline. All applications for Massachusetts sports betting licenses needed to be submitted no later than November 21. Though the bar for approval was considered a formality for MGM and other casinos with gaming licenses already in place, the company still needed to meet that deadline and pay the prescribed fee. They didn't. And it almost cost them a boatload of money.

Eventually, however, one of the MGM executives apologized and was able to remedy the situation. Here are the full details of how the situation played out, courtesy of WBZ News:

"Commission Executive Director Karen Wells said Tuesday morning that while MGM Springfield paid its $200,000 application fee by the Nov. 21 deadline, the casino didn't actually get its completed sports betting license application to the commission until Nov. 23. MGM Springfield Vice President and Counsel Gus Kim participated in Tuesday's meeting virtually to take the blame.

"'There was a miscommunication. That is completely my fault, I apologize. I am so sorry that it happened but as soon as we realized that there was an issue, we corrected the problem,' Kim said. Kim said that MGM was juggling both the application for an in-person betting license for MGM Springfield and the BetMGM application for a mobile betting allowance and that he 'inadequately communicated' to MGM's corporate team the breakdown of who was supposed to be working on which portions of which application."

It no doubt helped MGM that they were already working with a casino gaming license. They have a longstanding relationship with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which had the power to extend the application deadlines so long as those extensions were pre-negotiated. It's not clear what would have happened if places like FanDuel or DraftKings failed to meet the application deadline. Would they have been as lucky as MGM?

The Sports Betting License Process in Massachusetts Quickly Became a Headache

True to the nature of this entire sports betting rollout, Massachusetts didn't give applicants much notice to complete the steps necessary for a license. Companies had only a couple of weeks to pay their fees and submit all the necessary forms.

Short notice likely wasn't an issue for (most) bigger companies. But less established sportsbooks were definitely at a disadvantage. The number of applicants reflected as much. Massachusetts was expecting to get at least a handful of more candidates for sports betting licenses than they actually did. The final number of applications they received were adversely impacted by the truncated timeline for completion they provided.

Beyond that, Massachusetts still hasn't ironed out an airtight legal sports betting launch date. Officials have repeatedly said something to the effect of "sometime in January 2023." But at this writing, we're almost in December. If the state intends to debut sports betting in roughly one month, that also could have hindered the application process. Not every candidate would be able to establish themselves in the market that quickly—especially if they're targeting independent licenses that don't include partnerships with a regional casino.

This is largely why Massachusetts initially proposed a staggered launch for sportsbooks. They wanted to accommodate different timelines. But applicants have mostly scoffed at the notion. Sportsbooks who enter the legal Massachusetts betting market later than everyone else theoretically won't have a fair shake at gaining clients, since most will have already signed up with another sportsbook or two.

So...When is Sports Betting Coming to Massachusetts?

We wish we knew the answer to this question. But other than reiterating that Massachusetts sports betting should go live sometime in 2023, we don't have much information.

For anyone left in lurch, you don't have to wait around. Plenty of the sites who appear in our reviews of the top online sportsbooks allow people from Massachusetts to set up an account. You can also drive to one of the many nearby states that already offer legal sports betting and place wagers from there.

Finding workarounds at this stage is no doubt annoying. Massachusetts signed sports betting into law a while ago. The failure to launch by now is disappointing. It even verges on inexplicable.

Worse, until the state approves licenses and determines a rollout process, everyone will continue to be left in limbo. That includes both the sportsbooks themselves and the sports betting enthusiasts inside 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:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan is a sports betting writer who can tackle any topic from presidential elections to changes in the sports betting legislation federally and on the state level. He also writes picks for NFL.