BOSTON – A tenth sports betting app was approved in the Bay State on Tuesday and seven of those are expected to be operational when mobile Massachusetts sports betting launches a week from Friday.
The mobile sportsbooks planning to launch on March 10 are: Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM Sportsbook, WynnBET, Barstool (Penn Interactive), FanDuel, DraftKings, and betr. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has granted final licensure to three other mobile operators.
Betway (Digital Gaming) was given final approval Tuesday after paying the $1 million application fee a day earlier. It will not begin operation in the Commonwealth until the first quarter of 2024, the MGC said. Two other licensed operators, Fanatics and Bally Bet, do not plan to go live in Massachusetts until May.
Last week, PointsBetUSA announced it was not going to proceed in Massachusetts.
Online betting will begin in the Bay State at 10 a.m. ET on March 10 under a timetable announced by MGC Executive Director Karen Wells. That date falls two days ahead of Selection Sunday and four days before the start of the NCAA Tournament.
Wells has said the date “is dependent on the quality of the internal control submissions that the applicants have submitted” and how they respond to any concerns raised by the independent testing lab used by the state (GLI) to ensure compliance. Sports Wagering Director Bruce Band last week said he has seen no issues that would push back the launch date.
The MGC Tuesday also approved several regulations necessary for the launch of mobile betting. Commissioners Wednesday are scheduled to reconsider and vote on changes in the regulations prohibiting third-party affiliates from entering into certain agreements with sportsbooks that are commonplace elsewhere.
Betway’s parent company was sold at the start of the year and the company had said previously it would not be able to meet the March 10 launch date as a result. The MGC will again discuss Betway’s licensure next week but the company won’t be operational in Massachusetts for at least a year.
“We’ve gotten through this process and we’ve done it with due diligence, a lot of grit, and a lot probing, and a lot of inquiry,” Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said after initial approval of the books in January. “And at the top of our list we’ve always, always, always focused on the fact this is a peerless privilege to be able to have a gaming license and that we would prioritize the integrity, and health and safety, of any gaming patron here. I don’t think for a moment anyone deviated from those priorities.”
Massachusetts sportsbook promo codes are available in the buildup to launch day, with FanDuel already offering $100 in bonus bets to those who sign up in the state now.
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Retail Books Report 4 Instances Of Illegal Wagers
The MGC has already announced four violations of the state law that prohibits wagers on all regular season events among colleges located in the state since retail betting started on January 31.
The MGC said Encore Boston Harbor accepted wagers on a Boston College women’s basketball game played Feb. 19 against Louisville. Sports Wagering Director Band said the book’s third-party provider (GAN) had a “glitch” in its system that failed to remove Massachusetts-based colleges from its list of women’s college basketball games.
This was Encore’s second such violation concerning Boston College women’s basketball. The book also took one bet on a Boston College-Notre Dame women’s basketball game on Feb. 2. On that occasion, wagering was allowed from about 12:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. The bet was placed on the game’s outcome as part of a $70, 5-leg parlay. Once Encore became aware of the bet, it voided the BC-Notre Dame leg of the parlay. The lapse, according to Encore, was also caused by GAN’s failure to lock out in-state women’s basketball from the casino’s catalog of markets.
Patrons over 21 are allowed to legally wager in-person at the Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett, the Plainridge Park Casino (PPC) in Plainville, and the MGM Springfield.
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The MGM Springfield book accepted wagers on the Harvard-Yale and Harvard-Brown men’s basketball games played on Feb. 3-4. An MGC investigation found betting on both games was available for about 20 hours each. The games were offered because the third-party information provider used by the book inadvertently listed Harvard – which opened its doors in Cambridge in 1635 – as located in nearby Connecticut. A total of $1,150 was bet on the Harvard-Yale game (won by Yale 68-57) and $80 on the Harvard-Brown game (won by Brown 68-65). Bettors won $1,106 on 28 bets, the majority of which were parlays placed at kiosks.
Illegal wagering on a Merrimack College men’s game against Long Island University on Feb. 2 was allowed for about seven hours at PPC, the casino reported. Thirty-three bets on 27 tickets were made, totaling $6,848. The casino said $4,720 was won by bettors. PPC reported to the Commission that gaming vendor Kambi mistakenly assigned Merrimack College (located in North Andover) as a Florida school. The error was flagged and reported by a PPC employee.
Disciplinary hearings on the wagering violations will begin on March 14.
More than $500,000 total was wagered on January 31 – opening day for retail betting in Massachusetts. Encore lost $75,230 on the book’s first day of operation. WynnBET officials offered no details but a source told Bookies.com that one bettor won a significant amount of money on Jan. 31, but “gave it back the [next] day or two.”
MGM Springfield and PPC combined to net $65,706 for their one day taking bets in January, earning the state $9,861 in tax revenue.
Raynham Park Submits Application, Suffolk Downs Considering Options
The MGC has received the long-awaited Category 2 application from Raynham Park for its on-site sportsbook to be operated by Caesars. The MGC is expected to hold its hearing on the former greyhound racing facility’s license on March 23. It has yet to receive an application from the ownership of Suffolk Downs.
The owners of Raynham Park are building a 60,000-square-foot, $28 million simulcasting/sportsbook facility. Plans include a 38,000-square-foot sportsbook to open in the Spring. Caesars will operate its retail book in the current space at Raynham Park once approved. Raynham Park ran greyhound races from 1940 until the sport was outlawed in the Bay State in 2009. It holds a simulcasting license and is thus eligible to operate a “Category 2” retail sports book.
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“Our sports book will be one of the largest sports gaming destinations, not only in Massachusetts, but in the United States,” said Raynham Park owner Chris Carney.
Caesars already has a mobile sports betting license in the state in conjunction with the Encore Boston Harbor casino. Raynham had initially chosen bet365 as its mobile partner, but bet365 no longer plans to operate in the state because of concerns over excessive regulation in the Commonwealth. A Raynham Park spokesman told Bookies.com its mobile license “remains open”.
Suffolk Downs may be considering a downtown Boston site for its retail sports book. Its owners have not announced any plans or even if they plan to partner with any outside operators. The former thoroughbred racing operator has been linked to BetRivers but could also partner with DraftKings to give the company a retail site in its home state.
Big Name Betting At Encore, MGM Springfield
Retail betting at Encore began last month with 32 members of the public placing bets at kiosks located throughout the venue. Several former notable New England athletes placed ceremonial “first bets” at 10:30 a.m. at the windows of its WynnBET-branded book, including Ty Law, Johnny Damon, Matt Light, Cedric Maxwell, Shawn Thornton and Olympic medalist Angela Ruggiero.
Law placed the largest wager of the morning group, backing the Boston Celics with $1,000 to win the NBA title this season at +360.
Law also bet $240 on the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl vs. the Eagles. He wore No. 24 as a player for the Patriots, Chiefs, Jets and Broncos. Law was a bit confused about the vig as to why the casino usually takes $110 to win $100.
“Gambling is great as long as you do it responsibly. I don’t understand everything. Why do I gotta bet $110 to get $100? All that stuff was bit over my head, but I’m going to learn,” Law said.
In the evening on Jan. 31, former Patriots WR Julian Edelman dropped an $11,000 wager on the Celtics to win the NBA title at +360.
Bruins Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque was on hand for the first wager at MGM Springfield. Bourque wagered $100 on the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup at +450. Former New England Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich was at the Barstool-branded book inside Plainridge Park Casino.
“Today is a monumental step for BetMGM and sets the stage for us to deliver a best-in-class sports wagering experience across Massachusetts,” said BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt.
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Barstool To Returns To Massachusetts
Penn Interactive closed its deal to completely own Barstool Sports in February. The Barstool Sports-branded mobile sportsbook will operate in conjunction with the Penn Interactive-owned casino in Plainville under a Category 3 temporary license. The approval for Barstool came almost 20 years after the company was first founded by Portnoy as a free betting newspaper near Boston.
The Barstool license was granted under the following unique conditions:
- No one under 21 will be permitted into any live Barstool College Football Shows
- PSI will fully cooperate with an IEB investigation of Barstool Sports and other items discussed in executive session
- PSI will provide the MGC with diversity goals for its workforce and vendor spend
The MCG also requires the licensee to get an operating permit and pay the $1 million fee for the 1-year temporary license.
Massachusetts Sports Betting: What You Need To Know
Who Are The Players In Massachusetts?
Here is the list of all betting operators granted a license or initial approval for a license in the Bay State:
Category 1: Casino Retail
- Encore Boston Harbor
- MGM Springfield
- Plainridge Park
Category 2: Racing Retail
- Raynham Park – Applied
- Suffolk Downs – Pending
Category 3: Mobile
- Bally Bet
- WynnBET (tied to Encore Boston Harbor)
- Caesars (tied to Encore Boston Harbor)
- BetMGM (tied to MGM Springfield)
- Barstool Sportsbook (tied to Plainridge Park)
- Fanatics (tied to Plainridge Park)
As noted, PointsBetUSA was granted initial approval but pulled out of doing business in the Commonwealth.
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How Will Sports Betting In Massachusetts Work?
The law allows Massachusetts betting apps to serve those over 21 and physically present in the state from March 10, 2023.
Here’s an outline of the new law’s highlights:
History Of Massachusetts Betting
The Massachusetts Lottery celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022. Gambling legislation in Massachusetts goes back to 1719, when the first laws were passed to prohibit lotteries. The first state lottery in Massachusetts was legalized in 1745 before it was outlawed again in 1833.
Parimutuel betting on horse and dog racing was legalized in 1934. Suffolk Downs was a mainstay on the national thoroughbred racing circuit until its final race in 2014. Greyhound tracks in Massachusetts included sites in Taunton/Raynham, Revere, and Plainfield. A 2009 law outlawed dog racing in the state.
Plainridge Park Casino in Plainfield hosts a limited harness racing season. Foxboro Raceway operated harness racing from 1947 to 1997 on what is now the current site of One Patriot Place, adjacent to Gillette Stadium.
Illegal betting has been a part of the fabric of the Bay State for centuries. Illegal bookmakers remain common place. A point-shaving scandal rocked Boston College in 1978-79 and was a real-life connection to the move “Goodfellas.”
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