Published on: January 1, 2023, 11:36 am.
Last updated: January 1, 2023, 01:57.
The holidays are winding down, but the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s (MGC) busy season will continue when the agency reconvenes on Tuesday, January 3rd.
MGC is in the midst of a marathon regulatory trial of numerous sports betting applications from a range of interests seeking market entry. Sports betting in Massachusetts was officially legalized in August after Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed a bipartisan compromise reached by the state legislature.
The gaming expansion allows the state’s three commercial casinos to operate retail sportsbooks, plus up to two online sports betting platforms. The state also provided market entry for Suffolk Downs and Raynham Park for in-person operations and an online sports betting skin.
The Massachusetts sports betting bill also allows for the issuance of seven fully online sports betting licenses to entities that do not have a physical presence in the Commonwealth. Known as category 3 sports betting operator licences, the MGC says six applications have been received for the fully remote category.
MGC before the holidays reviewed and debated the sports betting apps for the three casinos and their related online partners. MGC approved in-person sports betting concessions for Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park.
Commissioners also deemed several connected online sportsbooks suitable for a license, including WynnBet, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook. Encore Boston lends its online sports betting privileges to WynnBet and Caesars Entertainment, while MGM Springfield has partnered with BetMGM and plans to develop offerings for the other skin opportunity later.
The holidays gave the MGC temporary relief from their duties. But all hands will be on deck again on Tuesday to resume bidding for the state’s sports betting app. The five-member commission, supported by a strong staff led by chief executive Karen Wells, will consider proposals from some of the industry’s biggest players, plus a couple of relative unknowns.
The list of six Category 3 applicants includes FanDuel, DraftKings, Bally’s Interactive, PointsBet, Betway and BetR.
While DraftKings and FanDuel are household names in the sports betting industry, Betway and BetR come with far less name recognition. Their legal operations in other states are considerably smaller than the big sportsbooks, which could cause some concern among MGC.
DraftKings sports betting is operational in 21 states, but Betway is live in only eight states. Massachusetts Sports Betting Law encourages the MGC to give preference to sports betting operators who have demonstrated responsible business practices in other legal jurisdictions where they are licensed.
The MGC says its review hearings will run from Tuesday to Friday this week, starting at 10am. The Sports Betting Commission’s ratings ahead of the Christmas break regularly lingered into the evening hours.
The $5 million fee
Each online sports betting applicant that is deemed suitable for licensing in Massachusetts will receive a $5 million bill. The tax will allow each sportsbook to operate for five years. Renewals are set at an additional $5 million every five years.
Gross gambling revenue generated by in-person sports betting will be taxed at 15%. Income from mobile phone operations will be taxed slightly more at 20%.