Consumer Privacy Topic Of Debate Between MGC And Sportsbook Operators

Written By Dan Holmes on August 8, 2023
MGC and MA sportsbook operators discuss consumer privacy during Tuesday meeting, from

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission spent a significant amount of time discussing consumer privacy during Tuesday’s hearing.

More specifically, privacy for consumers was at the center of much of the debate in regards to promo messaging in the Commonwealth.

Sports betting operators in Massachusetts are pushing back on what they consider a “narrow” definition of private data by regulations on Massachusetts sports betting apps.

Using consumer information for promo offers

A topic of debate was the ability of sportsbooks to use information, such as how long a customer has been dormant, to message them and offer different MA sportsbook bonuses and promotions.

For example, Commissioner Nakisha Skinner asked if that meant a fan who only enjoys betting during the NFL season would or should be targeted for promo offers during the summer when they are not actively betting.

Mina Makarious, an attorney for Anderson & Kreiger, LLP, representing the sports wagering division of the MGC, did not support making changes to the privacy regulations.

Makarious explained that in his opinion, it is different to send an offer based on the usage of the app, as opposed to offering enticing bonuses to a customer who has been dormant. “That’s a problem,” Makarious said, because it can “increase the addictive nature of the app.”

After much debate, no change was recommended to the regulatory language at this time.

MGC can call the shots

Discussion did take place regarding 205 CMR 257, which governs Sports Wagering Data Privacy. A few sports betting operators have reportedly urged the MGC strike that regulation and instead rely on state privacy laws.

Commissioner Brad Hill, a former state representative, expressed that he did not feel there was a need to “wait for the legislature to pass laws,” when the MGC has the ability “to do so through regulations.”

No action was taken.

Responsible gambling still a focus

Even before sports betting launched, responsible gambling in Massachusetts has been a steady focus of the MGC.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the commission also heard concerns from sports betting operators that the requirements for displaying opt-in messaging for responsible gambling may be confusing and “excessive” to consumers.

In addition, debate was renewed about the choice between requiring sportsbooks to use an opt-in or opt-out functionality for consumers in terms of privacy and responsible gambling.

Skinner expressed concerns that Massachusetts could err on the side of caution so much that it could place undue burden on sports betting operators to “create systems that (satisfy) regulations only required in Massachusetts.” She worried that regulations could result in requirements that are “difficult to implement.”

No action was taken regarding the sportsbooks’ concerns.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a Staff Writer for PlayMA with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He also has extensive experience covering the launch of sports betting in other states, including Ohio and Maryland. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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