When Is Sports Betting Launching in Massachusetts?

Fenway Park Boston Red Sox stadium
A general view of Fenway Park. Adam Glanzman/Getty Images/AFP

The road to the legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts was long and circuitous but a deadline-extending deal got it over the finish line.

And now that Governor Charlie Baker has signed it into law, when will the retail shops and the online betting apps go live?

The Deal is Done

The Massachusetts House and Senate reached a compromise to pass this highly sought legislation and the governor enthusiastically signed it, but when will it launch? Last week Governor Baker put his pen to paper and was optimistic about the future of sports betting in the Bay State.

“Our administration first filed legislation to legalize sports wagering in the Commonwealth several years ago, and I am glad to be able to sign this bill into law today,” Baker said in a statement.

“We appreciate the dedication and compromise that the Legislature demonstrated on this issue, and we look forward to supporting the work of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on the responsible implementation of the law over the next several months.”, he added.

It’s the last line of Baker’s quote that has squelched any hopes that Baystaters will be betting on the NFL in Week 1 of the regular season. Although that possibility has been whispered, it’s a pipe dream at this point. There will be no legal sports betting in Massachusetts this September and it will be a minor miracle if it happens at all this year. A January 2023 launch seems to be the most viable at this point.

“I want the public to understand, as we as commissioners are starting to understand, that this isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight,” Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Brad Hill said. “This is going to take a little longer than people probably anticipate, and I’m OK with that because I want to do it right.”

What’s in the Bill?

If you travel to Massachusetts sometime next year, you will have a variety of sports betting apps from which to choose. The usual suspects like FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars are all likely candidates to be entering the market.

There will be others like WynnBET that will have an online presence as its hotel and casino, the Encore Boston Harbor, is the largest of the two in the state and will be available to anyone who is looking to place a digital wager within the physical boundaries of the Commonwealth.

Regardless of which platform providers decide to join the fray, online operators will pay a 20 percent tax on gross gaming revenue while retail providers will be charged 15 percent. That is not nearly as onerous as New York, a state like New Hampshire, that charges 51 percent to operate in its market.

The lower tax rate is expected to ultimately optimize earnings because it will allow the sportsbook operators to do more advertising and offer bigger and better promotions. Both of which will draw more customers and generate higher profits as well as a bigger financial boon to Massachusetts’ tax coffers over the long run.

The bill allows for betting on college sports except on those schools located within Massachusetts. However, if one of those colleges or universities makes it into a national tournament, ala the Big Dance in college basketball or the CFP (College Football Playoff), then those games will be allowed on the betting menu.