October 10, 2022 4 min read

Massachusetts Sports Wagering Possibly Launching January 2023

The January launch date only pertains to the state’s slots and casino venues, however, with mobile operators expected to be able to get a license sometime in March. There is still some uncertainty if the dates can be met, and even if they are, there are those who also question if meeting the launch targets won’t come at the expense of a less diligent licensing process.

January, March Launches

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) held a regular public meeting last Thursday, with an emergency meeting called for the next day. The meetings were focused on clearing up the last crucial steps before launching sports betting in The Bay State and giving a clearer timetable for the launch. Even the emergency meeting wasn’t enough to set a specific launch date, however, the end of January 2023 was largely accepted as a possible launch target.

Following the Thursday meeting, MGC released a scoping survey that all applicant operators must fulfill. It’s aimed at all companies applying to hold or to be a vendor of a Category 1, Category 2, or Category 3 sports betting license. The survey will be seeking “specific company information” and will provide MGC with “valuable information” before full applications are due. The Scoping Surveys are a mandatory requirement in the sports wagering application process.

The Friday meeting was aimed at establishing a general timeline for the launch of sports betting in Massachusetts, and the Commissioners managed to agree on launching Category 1 operators in “late January”. The fate of Category 3 operators was also clarified, with a projection for issuing licenses as soon as “early March”, as the transcript of the meeting states.

Category 2 is on hold for now, as the state’s simulcasting facilities aren’t ready with the information the Commission needs to proceed. More details will probably follow as all interested parties start working towards the issuance of licenses.

Some Uncertainty Lingers

Category 1 is the in-person operators, with the state’s slots establishment and two casinos probably looking at being licensed first, and Category 3 are mobile operators. This means that the January launch timeframe, which nicely precedes the Super Bowl, could prove very convenient and beneficial for in situ licensees, while mobile operators will be happy to know that the early March launch will enable placing bets on NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, commonly known as the March Madness tournament.

This would all be true if the launch dates are met, and of course, if the extra provisions that legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts entails are followed, such as placing bets only in matches that involve a Massachusetts college or university, for example. While spacing out the launches in the two segments makes sense from an administrative point of view, it’s clear that online operators would prefer a simultaneous launch.

There was some uncertainty around basing the launch timeline on a sports calendar as a whole, however, as the Commission’s 4-0-1 vote reflects. Commissioner Nakisha Skinner was behind the one abstained vote, and although the result might not make this obvious, MGC was clear that some adjustments might be needed if unforeseen circumstances occur.

This can include public comments, which are still being sought for the November 9 scheduled meeting or unexpectedly high applicant numbers, for example. Another setback might come from within the Commission as well, with some commissioners expressing their reservations regarding the balance between speed and thoroughness.

The question was mostly settled during the Friday meeting by introducing a sunset provision that would see the Commission revert to its more in-depth licensing process beginning September 2023, but would also go ahead with the quick process that’s already in place to target the cited launch dates in January and March 2023.

Author

Kyamil is a big tech fan, who loves hummus on everything and has enjoyed writing from a young age. From essays, through personal art, to news pieces and more serious tech analysis. In recent years he’s found fintech and gambling collide with all his interests, so he truly shares our core passion for the entire gambling scene and furthering the education of the mass citizen on these topics.

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