Rocky start for Massachusetts retail sports betting

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Online sports betting is still roughly a month away, so hopefully, there is time to iron out some of the hiccups that have occurred during the Jan. 31 launch of Massachusetts retail sports betting.

All three casinos have taken prohibited bets already

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission sports betting regulations stipulated that there is no wagering on in-state college athletic teams unless they are participating in a tournament like March Madness. Within the first two weeks of betting, all three retail operators self-reported instances where those bets were taken.

Plainridge Park and Encore Boston Harbor reported their incidents earlier this month. At the most recent MGC meeting, the staff informed commissioners that MGM Springfield also had an incident, taking wagers on the Harvard-Yale basketball game.

The commissioners spent quite a bit of time deliberating how to handle these infractions. While no final decisions were made, the sentiment of the five commissioners seemed to lean towards the leadership being more involved early on in terms of adjudicatory hearings to deal with violations since sports betting is still in its nascent stage.

The MGC also advised commissioners on what kind of penalties other jurisdictions have levied against operators for similar infractions. While the commissioners heard the advice, more than one stated a desire to come to a decision on their own about what is appropriate versus aping another regulator.

First day of MA betting handle and revenue

In the meantime, numbers are in for the opening day of retail sports betting in the state. With only one day of betting, the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Keep in mind too that futures wagers placed on opening day would not pay out until the following month, which could skew handle.

With that in mind, here is a look at how each operator’s opening day went:

  • Encore Boston Harbor: $370,882 in handle, ($73,303) in revenue losses
  • MGM Springfield: $57,236 in handle, $12,296 in revenue
  • Plainridge Park: $82,830 in handle, $53,759 in revenue

The state collected roughly $9,500 in taxes off opening day betting action.

Those numbers will pale in comparison to online sports betting launch, which is set to begin on March 10.