Much like two states that have launched online sports betting in the past four months, Massachusetts sought to increase participation from businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans. The state’s sports betting bill, signed into law in August, required a diversity study be completed.
The diversity study was to be conducted by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and submitted by Dec. 31, 2022. Retail sports betting launched in Massachusetts on Jan. 31, with online sports betting expected to go live on March 10.
That study’s findings?
… It needs more time.
The MGC submitted a report on the diversity study, and on a separate one on the impact of allowing retail locations to operate MA sports betting kiosks, on Dec. 29. In both reports, the commission said it needs more time to conduct a thorough review. It plans for additional studies to satisfy the requirements of the law.
“As you know, this law was signed on Aug. 10, 2022. The MGC appreciates the studies that have been included and considering the short turnaround of Dec. 31, 2022, due dates, we believe more time is needed to complete adequate studies into these important matters,” a spokesman for the MGC wrote in an email to PlayMA. “We submitted this plan to the legislature to meet reporting requirements and present our proposed plan for these two studies.”
What did diversity, sports betting kiosk document say
In a letter to Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies addressed to Sen. Eric Lesser and Rep. Jerald Parisella, the MGC outlined the study it wishes to conduct in the future. The submitted document outlined the research that will take place after sports betting launches and “sufficient time has passed to assess the industry.”
According to the document, the MGC began “a procurement process to select an entity to conduct this evaluation by July 2023, with the initiation of the evaluation by September 2023. We anticipate including this study in the gaming research agenda in FY24.”
The MGC will also begin looking in January for a company to perform the kiosk study. The document noted that nine states allow kiosks in non-gaming settings, such as restaurants or bars. Recently launched Ohio and Maryland are two of those states.
Maryland made diversity a priority in sports betting law
When Maryland began considering its sports betting bill, state lawmakers wanted to increase diversity and inclusion among its sports betting operators.
Initially in Maryland’s sports betting law, a disparity study was to be conducted by the state’s attorney general’s office. But the study delayed the issuing of sports betting licenses and the Sports Wagering Application Review Committee (SWARC), working with the General Assembly, altered the requirement in September to instead make each sportsbook submit a diversity plan each year.
Maryland sportsbooks must provide diversity plans to SWARC that indicate how the companies would increase diversity hiring. In January, SWARC approved 10 hiring plans from online sportsbooks. SWARC chairman Thomas Brandt noted that “Maryland’s sports wagering legislation was innovative in its provisions encouraging diverse participation in this new Maryland industry. To that end, there is some real substance in the plans that we’ve approved.”
Ohio also included a diversity study in its sports betting law, but sports betting launched on Jan. 1 and no study was released. There was no timeline in the law for when the study had to be completed.
Sports betting kiosks permitted in 9 states
The document submitted by the MGC to the legislature shows the following states and Washington, DC, allowing kiosks in businesses such as restaurants or bars — Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Ohio, and Washington DC.
The MGC report says that sports betting kiosks “can deliver expanded (24/7) and more convenient access. Sports betting kiosks can accept cash, winning tickets and vouchers, and grant full access to all sports propositions and pari-mutuel horse racing.”
With Massachusetts just beginning retail sports betting on Jan. 31 and scheduled to launch online sports betting on March 10, it doesn’t appear that adding kiosks is a priority.
Completing the two diversity and kiosk studies within the MGC timeline filed with the state legislature in December could provide a clearer picture of both for Massachusetts sports betting.