Bay Staters Craved Access to Legal Sportsbooks on NFL Opening Weekend

Written By Kris Johnson on September 16, 2022 - Last Updated on August 7, 2023

If the opening weekend of the NFL season is any indication, Massachusetts sports betting will flourish when the state begins to operate as a legal market.

GeoComply Senior Director of Government Relations Danny DiRienzo completed a heat-map analysis for Play Massachusetts during the four-day period from Sept. 8-11.

GeoComply blocked close to 45,000 geolocation checks on Massachusetts residents trying to access a legal sportsbook in another state. GeoComply tracked a total of 12,000 unique sportsbook usernames during its analysis. Connecticut led the way for Massachusetts bettors with nearly 40% of overall attempts trying to access legal sportsbooks coming in the Nutmeg State.

One major takeaway from GeoComply’s four-day study involves the power of the NFL, according to DiRienzo. He also believes the Massachusetts sports betting market will be robust when it launches.

“The NFL clearly drives sportsbook engagement,” he said. “We saw nearly a 50% increase over what we saw in the summertime during the opening NFL weekend. Overall, Massachusetts continues to be a highly engaged market even though they’re not legal yet. I would expect, especially given the rabid nature of Massachusetts sports fans, that when they do go live it’s going to be a thriving market.”

View GeoComply’s Massachusetts Mapping Analysis Here

Hot Pockets of Geolocation Activity   

GeoComply performed an unusually high number of geolocation checks at New Hampshire welcome center rest areas off the I-93 and I-95 corridors northbound from Massachusetts.

I-93 Rest Area: 4,300 geolocation checks

I-95 Rest Area: 2,500 geolocation checks

“This is not organic New Hampshire traffic,” DiRienzo said. “This is clearly Massachusetts residents driving up to play. This is not something that would be (typical) New Hampshire play where people are pulling into a rest area to wager.”

Meanwhile, Springfield is the capital of Massachusetts, and it’s situated in the southern part of the state about a stone’s throw away from Connecticut.

“When we only look at geolocation checks returning to Springfield, and of course this makes sense, 90% of them are trying to access Connecticut sportsbooks,” DiRienzo said.  “Clearly, players are attempting to access the state that they’re closest to here.” 

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Why Are Geolocation Checks Required?

GeoComply provides geolocation security services to most all of the major sportsbook operators in the US including BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel. Sportsbooks have to verify the location of patrons when they’re placing mobile bets. GeoComply performs geolocation checks for these operators to ensure that bettors are within the boundaries of a legal state when they make an online wager.

Massachusetts residents can register for accounts with commercial sportsbooks in nearby states such as New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. But at this time, Bay Staters have to travel across state lines to a legal state before they can successfully place a mobile bet.

From a national perspective, GeoComply did a record 101.3 million geolocation checks on US sports bettors last weekend, up from 60.1 million geolocation checks over the same period a year ago. New York registered the most of any state with 15.7 million (15.2%) of them. Connecticut, as a point of comparison, had 1.9 million geolocation checks.

Related news: Massachusetts Sports Betting Launch Won’t Be Ready Until After Week 4 Of NFL Season

When Will Massachusetts Residents Be Able to Bet at Home?

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the state’s sports betting legislation into law on Aug. 10 of this year.   

No launch date has been set yet as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has to approve more than 200 regulations before sportsbooks will be able to operate in the Commonwealth. Approved sportsbook operators will also need to complete the MGC’s required licensing process.

While the hope is that Massachusetts will have legal sports betting apps in place by the end of the year, it might be early 2023 before that becomes a reality. 

Until then, you can expect the continued exodus of Massachusetts sports bettors into neighboring states in their quest to get legal action.

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

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Kris Johnson

Kris Johnson is a Lead Writer at PlayMA with more than 15 years of experience as a sports journalist. Kris' work has appeared in Sports Business Daily, Sports Business Journal, NASCAR Illustrated, and more. Kris also authored a sports betting novel entitled The Endgame.

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