Gaming Expert Isn’t Surprised After Six Months Of MA Sports Betting

Written By Adam Hensley on September 7, 2023
MA expert no surprises sports betting

The dust is starting to settle and Massachusetts gamblers have had six months to bet on sports.

However, according to one gaming expert, the industry is shaking out just as most believed it would.

PlayMA spoke with Jed M. Nosal, a partner in the Womble Bond Dickinson law firm’s Business Litigation Practice Group. Nosal’s focus lies specifically with regulatory oversight, investigation, compliance and other similar areas, with his niche in Massachusetts.

There are still plenty of opinions within the industry. But Nosal thinks there’s a clear picture of where its going heading into the 2023 football season.

Nosal touched on various topics with PlayMA, including his thoughts on the future of sports betting and if online casinos or an online lottery are in store for the Bay State.

Any surprises so far?

Simply put, no.

One thing that stood out to him was how quickly Massachusetts online sports betting went from legalization to launch. Massachusetts lawmakers legalized online sports betting about a year ago, then launched in March.

Nosal explained that his work within the state dates back to the legalization of commercial gambling, so he’s no stranger to how things work within the state.

Once lawmakers legalized sports betting, it was full steam ahead.

“I think it was a pretty intense process in order to accomplish that on both the regulator side as well as the industry,” he said. “While not a surprise, I think it’s something fairly remarkable.”

Responsible gambling was always a priority in the Bay State

Nosal explained that back when Massachusetts legalized commercial gaming, responsible wagering was just as big of a focus for the state as sports betting is today.

Massachusetts has seemingly been at the front of regulating sportsbooks’ promotional language. There can no longer be any sort of gray area with how these promotions are phrased.

For instance, the Barstool Sportsbook came under fire in Massachusetts for advertising a “Can’t Lose Paray.”

The parlay is the brainchild of Dan “Big Cat” Katz, a prominent figure within Bartsool. Katz boasts a terrible gambling track record (at his own admission) and his “CLP” is filled with hints of sarcasm. But implying that a parlay could not lose was not OK.

“I don’t think it was a surprise to the industry that it was going to be a focus of Massachusetts implementing sports betting,” Nosal said. “Being able to pull from those practices and initiatives that were used on the commercial gaming side into sports betting I think was something that was both expected but done in a way that certainly makes Massachusetts a leader on that front.”

Nosal’s sentiments echo those of other industry experts. PlayMA caught up with Greenberg Traurig shareholder Mark Hichar earlier this summer, and he called Massachusetts “a leader in responsible gaming” in the country.

Any major sports betting changes on the horizon?

According to Nosal, it’s difficult to say at this time.

He believes the industry needs to have a little more time to mature before anyone can make any predictions for what’s next.

“I think the next frontier in gaming, when it comes to sports betting, is the industry practically reinvents itself. I wouldn’t be in a place to say what the next great technology is or what the next great offering may be. You’re hopefully that you have a regulatory environment that’s dynamic enough in order to adapt to that.”

Could MA reach its sportsbook app capacity?

Massachusetts law allows for up to 15 apps within the industry. Come January 2024, the state will have 10 up and running.

Nosal isn’t quite sure if the state will reach capacity, but the fact that there is room is intriguing.

“I think the great thing about not reaching capacity yet is potentially the opportunity for that new operator, that new potential offering or twist on what’s being offered now.”

Expect a ‘deliberate’ process with online lottery, online casinos in MA

Now that online sports betting is legal, the big question is whetheronline casinos or an online lottery is the next domino to fall.

There’s been plenty of speculation. One expert told PlayMA that an online lottery is “probably inevitable” and that the concept of an online presence will be “pretty irresistible” for the state.

Nosal didn’t say specifically if he thinks an online lottery or online casinos is next. But regardless, he thinks Massachusetts won’t be in a rush.

“Massachusetts is a state that’s known to be very deliberative in its process,” he said.

Nosal tabbed Massachusetts as “middle of the pack” in terms of its speed to launch its mobile sports betting industry.

He believes the state will want to let its sports betting market mature before making the next online step.

“I think you’re going to see a similar deliberative process on what the next iteration is, whether that is an online lottery, more online gaming in general. I think Massachusetts is going to be more on the conservative, deliberative side as opposed to a state that’s going to be out in front on those issues.”

The wrinkle in all of this, though, is technology.

It’s nearly impossible to forecast what’s next when it comes to not just online sports betting but gambling as a whole.

“Certain technologies or different types of products offered can certainly change those time tables,” Nosal said. “That, to me, is sort of the greatest unknown. What does technology have in store for this industry going forward that may change that dynamic?”

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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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