Tim Lowry is a partner at national law firm Holland & Knight, specializing in gaming law. He’s based in Philadelphia, but his job requires him to be actively aware of the gambling landscape across the US, at the macro and state-by-state micro levels.
So when he says a state stands out for a particular reason, that carries some weight.
And as we approach seven months with legal sports betting in Massachusetts, Lowry said he’s been struck by how strict and strong the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been in regards to enforcing gambling regulations with operators.
“Violations of gambling laws and regulations are not to be trifled with in the Bay State,” Lowry told PlayMA. “The Mass Gaming Commission has shown a willingness to take enforcement action against operators who offer wagers on sporting events that are not on the approved Massachusetts sports wagering catalog; as well as against operators who violate the Commission’s regulations governing marketing and promotional activities.”
MGC track record of enforcing regulations
Lowry is referring to how the MGC has handled retail operators — all three Massachusetts casinos — and one online operator — DraftKings Sportsbook MA — offering unauthorized wagers on unapproved events.
- The MGC fined Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino a combined $50,000 for various unauthorized college basketball bets the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks accepted in February.
- Regulators recently held a hearing regarding DraftKings accepting 864 illegal tennis bets.
The commission has also been quick to address issues with advertising and promotional language. It immediately flagged a FanDuel Sportsbook MA commercial that included the language “risk-free” after the app’s March 10 launch. And it held a public hearing with Barstool Sportsbook regarding the company’s “Can’t-Lose Parlay” in the Bay State.
Now, the MGC has turned its focus to further protecting underage gamblers.
“It is no surprise then,” Lowry said, “that the Commission is in the process of drafting and promulgating new rules that further restrict advertising to persons under 21 years of age and that restrict operators from using bettors’ confidential and personal identifiable information except as necessary to operate the sportsbook.”
Massachusetts has proven to be strong on responsible gambling
Even ahead of launching sports betting, Massachusetts was seen as a state full of necessary guardrails to be a leader in responsible gambling. And, so far, that has proven to be the case.
The MGC has worked to make its regulations airtight, and it has demonstrated it won’t overlook even the smallest of transgressions. That, in addition to a potential lack of revenue potential in Massachusetts, may dissuade smaller operators from launching in the Bay State in the future.
“The Commission’s ongoing rulemaking efforts demonstrate that sports wagering operators, who operate or seek to operate in the emerging sports betting market in the Bay State, will need to contend with an evolving regulatory landscape,” Lowry said, “underscoring the need for operators to remain vigilant in ensuring compliance with state laws and regulations.”