Soft Launch Planned for Massachusetts Sports Betting

Sports betting at retail casinos in Massachusetts should be ready in advance of the Super Bowl in early February. But mobile entrance has to wait until November.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC)has settled on a pair of late January dates for a soft launch for retail sports betting in the state’s three casinos and the green light to go for real one day later. The expected dates are January 30 and 31, which provides a number of days to wager before the Super Bowl.

The discussion came a few days after the commission completed sports betting licensure for Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino. The first two received full licensure, which comes with a $5 million fee for each, according to Mass Live. Plainridge received a temp license for a year for $1 million, giving the casino the chance to clarify some concerns the commission had.

The dates are not set in stone. A lot depends on whether Gaming Labs International (GLI) finishes testing the equipment in time.

“There’s a lot of things happening simultaneously,” MGC Executive Director Karen Wells said.

But if GLI gives the all-clear on the software, she said, then commission staff can work through the final paperwork with the sports betting operators on January 27.

The other potential glitch involves Commissioner Nakisha Skinner, who has had a conflict with the opening dates for about a year. She suggested moving the date back one day.

“Is there any reason why we couldn’t do this, the verification on the 31st with a February 1 launch?” she said. “Because again, I did communicate with a couple of folks that I was not available on Monday the 30th, and so I would have at least liked to have a discussion in advance of this public discussion.”

The MGC will kick off a review of applications for Category 3 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 started 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.

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’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.