Mobile to launch by March

Massachusetts: Mobile sports betting licenses review hearings kick off this week; retail sportsbooks to launch by month's end

Reading time 2:15 min

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced Thursday it will kick off this week a review of applications for category three untethered sports betting licenses, aimed at businesses that want to offer online-only wagering not connected to a land-based property. The hearings on the untethered mobile applicants will start on January 6, but it will not be until January 19- 20 that commissioners will make a final determination on awarding any of the applicants a license.

Six companies have applied to offer mobile sports betting not tied to a brick-and-mortar operation in Massachusetts, including FanDuel, BetR, Bally’s Interactive, DraftKings, PointsBet, and Betway. According to state law, regulators may award up to seven untethered licenses after a competitive review process, as reported by Mass Live.

At January 6's meeting, Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein is expected to provide an overview of the process. Meanwhile, Head Attorney Todd Grossman will brief the businesses on the legal framework, and then regulators will jump into the application from Bally’s Interactive. 

As reported by the cited source, a hearing on FanDuel is scheduled for January 9, BetR on January 10, DraftKings on January 11, Betway on January 13, and Pointsbet on January 17. It will not be until January 19 and 20 that commissioners will make a final determination on awarding any of the applicants a license. At their respective hearings, the businesses will have a half-hour to present to the commission and another half-hour to demonstrate their mobile platform before regulators dive into a section-by-section review of the applications.

Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein

Regulators did not discuss a specific launch date for mobile wagering during Thursday's hearing, but have said in the past they hope to have it up and running in early March 2023.  

"It’s important for us to reiterate that the launch by any operator is still strictly contingent on regulatory approval of operational readiness, and the operators must pass verification and testing processes, a rigorous testing process, before any bets on their platform can be placed," Judd-Stein said according to the above-mentioned media.

Moreover, at a hearing in December, commissioners said in-person betting at Massachusetts’ three casinos will launch on January 31 after a “soft launch” on January 30. These include Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor in Everett. Executive Director Karen Wells suggested that proceeds from the soft launch might be donated to charity. 

The commission had previously announced a "late January" start for retail betting. While the January 30/31 launch would allow bettors to plunk down wagers ahead of the Super Bowl (but not for the NFL's conference championship games on January 29), it is largely dependent upon the commission's equipment and software testing partner Gaming Labs International completing the work it needs to do to ensure that the technology the casinos will use meets the commission's standards.

The first bets during the "soft launch" would be placed by people hand-picked by the commission and the betting companies. One commissioner would visit each of the facilities to observe how they handle taking bets from staff and invited guests. In-person betting would become available to the public the following day.
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