This year’s Super Bowl will be the first since Massachusetts launched online sports betting in the commonwealth.
For sports bettors, the game usually comes with some of the most outlandish prop bets of the year. But in Massachusetts, regulators are putting a stop to some of them.
As it stands now, bettors in Massachusetts cannot wager on some of the complete novelty props. For example, regulators banned bets on the length of the national anthem. They also prohibit wagers on the color of the Gatorade that will shower the winning coach.
On the other hand, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission seemed open to changing some of those rules for future Super Bowls. Some commissioners believed they should allow prop betting on the pre-game coin toss. But the 2024 coin toss bet is still prohibited.
Clarification sought regarding novelty Super Bowl props
Massachusetts sports betting is still in its infancy. Retail betting began just over a year ago, on Jan. 31, 2023, while Massachusetts online sports betting launched a month and a half later. Thus, regulators frequently debate and refine the state’s sports betting rules.
Unlike most requests to add new bet types or contests, these didn’t come from sports betting licensees. Instead, it came from within the commission.
The MGC’s sports wagering division sought clarification on which Super Bowl prop bets are allowable. The department wanted to inform sportsbook operators about what is permitted.
For instance, before retail sports betting launched last year, the MGC voted to allow futures bets on who would be named the Super Bowl MVP.
The specific prop bets the sports wagering division was seeking clarification on were:
- Coin toss result: heads or tails
- Coin toss winner
- Team to receive opening kickoff
- Coin toss winner wins game
- To win coin toss and win game
- Coin toss to be retaken
- Coin toss call result: correct or incorrect
- Gatorade color over coach
- National anthem length
Commission staunchly opposed to national anthem & Gatorade bath bets
At the MGC’s Feb. 1 meeting, commissioner Eileen O’Brien reaffirmed her opposition to such prop bets, saying she felt it was discussed and dismissed last year.
“These are things that don’t really fall within things you can control and have parameters and oversight. The human element of control and fixing here is so strong, I just don’t feel comfortable that any of these are appropriate.”
Commissioner Brad Hill said that while he had “integrity issues” with allowing bets on Gatorade color and national anthem length, he had no problem with allowing prop bets related to the coin toss.
“The coin toss, you’re flipping it in the air, there’s no way of knowing (ahead of time) what the results are going to be.”
All of the commissioners were opposed to allowing any type of Super Bowl betting in Massachusetts related to Gatorade color and the national anthem length, citing the ability for someone to know the results before they happen.
But most commissioners seemed open to reconsidering allowing the coin toss bets. Bruce Band, director of the sports wagering division, recommended adding the Super Bowl coin toss bets to the state’s wagering catalog.
Ultimately, no final decision was made. So, that means bettors in Massachusetts won’t be able to vote on any of the novelty props, at least in this year’s Super Bowl.
Anthem length leaks have heightened concerns
Bets on the Super Bowl national anthem length and Gatorade color are only allowed in a few sports betting markets nationwide. That’s largely due to the same concerns the MGC members expressed.
Worries over betting on the length of the national anthem seem justified, considering some of the pregame leaks in recent years. In 2021, a reporter posted a video on Twitter taken across the street from the stadium of Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan rehearsing the Anthem two days before Super Bowl LV.
The Gatorade color bet appears to be at least slightly safer. A former Gatorade executive told The Athletic in 2021 that, at the Super Bowl, the colors/flavors were intentionally randomized and that there are up to three different colors available on the sidelines.