Massachusetts approves six untethered online betting applicants

MGC Massachusetts online sportsbook vote
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After weeks of debate and some tense moments, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has now officially approved licenses for the 11 online sportsbook applicants put before them. The state’s two racetracks are allowed online betting licenses as well, but have yet to put forward an application to the commission.

Here is the list of sportsbooks approved to launch online in March:

Bally Bet
Fanatics Sportsbook

Boston-based DraftKings was quick to make a statement about approval in its home state:

“We are thrilled that the MGC has awarded DraftKings a mobile sports betting operator license in our home state of Massachusetts. We want to thank Chair Judd-Stein, Commissioner’s O’Brien, Hill, Skinner, and Maynard and the MGC staf for their hard work and diligence to launch mobile sports betting in the Commonwealth,” said DraftKings CEO Jason Robins.

Thursday the five MGC commissioners voted on the six untethered Category 3 license applicants, each of which provided lengthy presentations to the commission on their suitability.

Prior to taking a vote, Commissioner Eileen O’Brien reiterated her concerns about the suitability of some applicants, while Commissioner Nakisha Skinner reiterated her stance that this process was rushed and she wished she was in a better position to evaluate these applicants.

“I’m struggling because I don’t think this commission allowed itself the resources or the time to really dig into the economics of market saturation and the like,” she observed.

While there were discussions about adding stipulating to some or all of the applicants receiving a temporary license, the commissioners ultimately concluded the best way to resolve most issues was the issuance of regulations on the topics. Those topics included:

  • Mandatory partnership with the Massachusetts Lottery
  • An advertising ban on college and university campuses
  • Potential regulations around sportsbook owners who participate in athletic events

The final discussion point initially centered around professional fighter Jake Paul, who co-founded betr. The online sportsbook currently doesn’t offer combat sports betting, but the commission is concerned about if the group ever does offer betting on the PFL how they can maintain integrity.

However, as the discussion went on, the commissioners realized the scope of this could extend beyond just Paul and would better be handled with regulations.

The commission will vote on regulations during a meeting on Friday.

While the six untethered applicants were all approved, one of those approvals was not unanimous. O’Brien voted against approving betr for an application, offering the following explanation:

“I was conflicted on this application. I see the merits, the positives, and the negatives. But at the end of the day, I have concerns, particularly with the last criteria, and in terms of, on balance, whether the overall benefits minimize the harms and risk of harms. I have concerns about the demographic and the tying of a sports celebrity to a group that is in that vulnerable-area age group. I wish we were seeing this applicant a little later on down the road. And so for those reasons, I’m nay.”

Brick and mortar betting is set to go live on Jan. 31 with Plainridge Park, Encore Boston Harbor, and MGM Springfield all opening sportsbooks.