After a meeting that stretched past 10 hours and into a second day, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) got closer to launch timeline for sports betting, but the five commissioners could still not reach a firm date.
What they did agree on was a staggered launch timeline that would have retail sports betting launch at the state’s three casinos in January, then have online betting go live sometime in March. When the two horse racing tracks, which receive an online and a retail Category 2 license were not discussed. As of now, neither group had announced a sports betting partner.
While these dates give a ballpark of when launch might happen, they are just that, a ballpark, and not firm.
For much of the meeting, there was a clear divide across the commissioners, with two holding a strong stance that launch can’t be rushed and March was an unrealistic timeline and two insisting that the MGC staff would need to do what it takes to not miss out on both Super Bowl and March Madness betting. Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein seemed to lean towards a desire to speed up Massachusetts sports betting launch, noting more than once that the pace at which the commission made decisions was troubling.
The two commissioners concerned about the March launch, Eileen O’Brien and Nakisha Skinner seemed most concerned with the volume of applications the regulators would need to process, particularly vendor licenses. Moreover, while there are only seven available mobile wagering licenses, the list of interested operators far exceeds that. Knowing they could get upwards of 30 applications, O’Brien and Skinner were keen to allow extra time in case the team is inundated with applicants.
On the flip side, Commissioners Bradford Hill and Jordan Maynard argued the need to move quickly, as Super Bowl and March Madness are huge events on the sports betting calendar. Hill pushed for a 30-day window to review applications, while O’Brien advocated for a full 60 days before they reached a compromise of 45 days once the applications are posted, which should happen within the next two weeks.