After several delays and a robust discussion on which sports and events should be available to bet on, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has approved its catalog for the launch of sports betting in the state next week. The end result is one of the more broad markets for wagers, as it includes Oscars betting as well as wagering on sports awards and professional drafts.
Awards shows, athletic awards, and drafts all generated a lengthy debate, as the statute which legalized sports betting has specific terms about what constitutes a “sporting event.” In the end, Commissioner Eileen O’Brien was the lone dissenter on allowing these betting markets. The final vote was three in favor, O’Brien against, and Commissioner Nakisha Skinner abstaining.
Massachusetts now joins states like New Jersey and Colorado which offer awards show betting in addition to betting on major league drafts and athletic awards like the Super Bowl MVP. Not every jurisdiction allows such betting. For example, Pennsylvania does not allow betting on either award shows or professional sports drafts.
The group also agreed to eliminate the following sports from the catalog:
- Virtual sports
- Jai alai
- Olympic events
- Events taking place in Russia or Belarus or governed by Russian or Belarussian groups
While Olympic events are on this list, these events were omitted with the understanding they need to be reviewed and included in the near future. The commission was unsure how to handle markets such as ice skating and gymnastics, which are determined by subjective judges. Some markets, like Colorado, do allow some betting on these sports while others, like Indiana, specifically limit Olympic betting to unjudged events.
With that in mind, the commissioners decided more time was needed to scope out options on how to handle the Olympics and the sports therein. Given the next Olympics is not until 2024, there was less concern about rushing to make a decision on these types of wagers.
The Russian and Belarussian stipulation may be only temporary as well. O’Brien suggested copying the stance of other states in limiting these events while the war between Russia and Ukraine continues.
The first retail sportsbooks in Massachusetts will begin taking wagers at 10 am a week from today. With the announcement of Oscar nominations this morning and the decision this afternoon, wagers on Everything, Everywhere All At Once or Brendan Fraser as Best Actor should be among the options for bettors in the Commonwealth.