The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has voted unanimously to deny a request to add the Boston Marathon to the state’s Sports Wagering Catalog.
The 2023 Boston Marathon will be held Monday, April 17, which left the commission not enough time to consider adding the event to the state’s catalog.
Online sports betting in Massachusetts is live, but bettors will have to wait until at least 2024 to legally wager on the most famous long-distance race in the country.
DraftKings request denied, criticized for timing
The request to add the Boston Marathon to the catalog was made by DraftKings Massachusetts. But after much debate, the commission voted 4-0 to deny that request.
In a Thursday meeting, MGC chair Cathy Judd-Stein mentioned concern that Boston-based DraftKings displayed “no outreach” on the matter, even though the company is “quite local.”
In addition, a letter from the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), which runs the Marathon, urged the MGC to not approve betting on its event. According to a lawyer for the MGC, there would be a process to reach out to the BAA before approving the event, though it’s not required.
Several commissioners criticized DraftKings for not reaching out to the BAA, and for not appearing in front of the MGC personally.
Commissioner Eileen O’Brien shared her opinion that the Boston Marathon should not be added to the sports wagering catalog, though she did not cite a specific reason, other than the late timing of a request by DraftKings.
There is regulatory language that addresses reasons the MGC can approve or deny a request to add an event to the sports wagering catalog, including the ability of the event organizer to ensure the integrity of the event. Instead, the MGC preferred to punt the decision until 2024 at the earliest.
The New York Marathon, which is the largest in the country based on entrants, is part of the wagering catalog in that state. Not all sportsbooks provide odds for that marathon, however.
Changes to house rules
In addition to the Boston Marathon ruling, the MGC unanimously approved changes to house rules for several sports wagering licensees, including BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM and WynnBET.
All of the house rules changes below were approved by the MGC on Thursday.
As part of its house rules changes, Caesars Massachusetts updated its promotional language to use the phrase “bonus bet” instead of “bet credit” or “bonus cash.” The sports betting operator also added cycling, volleyball and softball to its odds listings, sports that were already in the MA Sports Wagering Catalog.
In addition, Caesars requested to pay all winnings to the exact amount rather than rounding the totals up, going forward.
BetMGM Massachusetts is proposing to alter language in promotions regarding teaser bets. Previously the language was ambiguous, and the new language is more fair to the consumer. BetMGM also requested to add a mercy rule provision to all baseball and softball bets. In such a case, if a mercy was declared, the bet would be settled based on the score at a pre-determined time.
This change most likely is in response to the recently concluded World Baseball Classic, which has a mercy rule in place for that international competition.
BetMGM also cleared up some language on NFL player futures, changing “active for one game” to “playing at least one snap.” The changes requested by BetMGM were also reflected in house rule changes for the MGM Springfield retail sportsbook.
WynnBET Sportsbook also requested to change its minimum wager from $1 to 1 cent.
RELATED NEWS: FanDuel Leads Market In 15 Of 18 States. Is MA Next?
If you or a loved one is experiencing problems with gambling, call 1-800-327-5050 or visit www.mahelpline.org/problemgambling to speak with a trained specialist for free, 24/7