Massachusetts regulators launched their online sports betting market Friday, giving Bay State bettors the ability to wager from home.
However, they won’t be wagering from the Fanatics online sportsbook. Despite receiving one of 11 online sports betting licenses awarded by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission so far, the sportsbook won’t launch until May.
Short window of time cost Fanatics an on-time launch
At the end of January, Massachusetts sports betting was officially underway with the start of its retail market. On Jan. 31, the state’s three casinos were eligible to open a brick-and-mortar sportsbook.
Just nine days later, regulators said they would allow online wagering to begin on March 10. The date allows Massachusetts sports bettors to wager on the upcoming March Madness basketball tournament.
However, they only left themselves about a month to award licenses and create a regulatory framework. The short window between the announcement and launch put operators in a tough spot as well. Only six online licensees began accepting bets at 10 a.m. Friday
Naturally, they were larger operators that have already launched their products in several other states. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, WynnBet and Barstool Sportsbooks launched their apps Friday. A seventh, Betr Sportsbook, plans to launch in April.
On the other hand, Massachusetts could be the first state where Fanatics’ online sportsbook is operational. Fanatics is also licensed for online operations in Ohio and Maryland but has yet to launch its product in either of those states either. The company applied for an online license in Pennsylvania and is awaiting a decision from regulators. A Tennessee launch could come soon.
Fanatics operates a retail sportsbook at FedEx Field in Maryland, home of the NFL’s Washington Commanders. It opened for business in January.
Fanatics has high hopes for 2023
Even with the first quarter of the year approaching an end, the company expects to expand rapidly before 2024.
Last fall, Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin said he expects the company to launch a licensed, online sportsbook in 15-20 states by the end of this year.
Fanatics was founded in 1995 in Jacksonville, Fla. as a sports merchandise retail company. Rubin bought the company in 2012 for $2.4 billion. In 2021, he announced he was creating a sportsbook arm of the company.
Initially, Fanatics planned on entering the Massachusetts market at the same time as the bigger players in the space. Matt King, Fanatics CEO of Betting and Gaming, told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that his company expected to be ready for the March 10 start date.
If Fanatics expects to reach King’s goal of 15-20 states, they will have to expand their operations at a rapid pace.
They won’t be alone with a late entry to Massachusetts. The MGC could award up to 15 licenses by the time they are done.