Legalized Sports Betting Launch in Massachusetts Receives Another Setback

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Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

A confirmation date for legal sports betting in Massachusetts remains absent. Multiple operators were involved in a meeting with the MA Gaming Commission last week to no avail.  

While the uncertainty on official launch dates is still present, online sports betting operators will likely wait until 2023 before business is up and running. Most of the sports betting operators involved opted for a universal launch date in MA.  

DraftKings is the lone operator opposing the launch of retail sportsbooks before online. The famous Boston operator doesn’t have a retail presence, and the launch of physical stores before online would damage their trajectory in the MA sports wagering scene.  

Retail Sportsbooks in Ma Could Arrive Before Online Services

Thus far, the likelihood of retail sports betting launch in MA is significantly higher than online, particularly in 2022.  

Should the process continue at its studious pace, online MA sports betting operators could miss the entirety of the NFL season. With the Super Bowl LVII taking place on February 12, 2023, if MA sports betting establishments haven’t launched by this date, the overall tax revenue for the Commonwealth would take a severe hit.  

A prolonged process wasn’t by design, as the MA Gaming Commission has faced countless barriers. Most recently, the proposal of temporary licenses has given operators an uneasy feeling that these 6–12-month contracts could result in a company’s closure.  

Operators have highlighted the dangers of temporary licenses; however, several permanent licenses will be awarded.    

Sportsbooks aren’t going to invest in MA sports betting with a risk of safeguarding issues and the potential of having to close shop within a year of launch.  

Sports Betting Operators Supporting a Retail Launch First

Last Thursday’s meeting between the MGC and operators presented various topics around the temporary licenses and a debate regarding a simultaneous launch or a staggered one (retail versus online).  

BetMGM, Barstool Sportsbook, and WynnBet were all interested in offering a retail sportsbook, as well as Suffolk Downs and Raynham racetracks.  

DraftKings was the lone operator to oppose a retail-only launch date, vying for a universal retail/online launch while highlighting its Boston headquarters currently employs 1,500 people.  

Representatives from BetFred commented that online operations could take between 9-12 months before a launch is possible.  

The MGC said that a competitive process arriving before temporary licensing would further halt the launch of online sports betting in MA.