On Thursday afternoon, state officials announced a tentative timeline for the launch of sports betting in Massachusetts. The tentative start of mobile betting could come in February 2023. In addition, the three retail casinos already operating in the state could begin offering retail sportsbooks sometime in January, per the provisional timeline revealed today.
When Gov. Charlie Baker signed the Massachusetts sports wagering bill on Aug. 10, fans hoped they would be able to begin placing bets during the NFL season, which began Sept. 9 and ends with Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12.
After the governor signed the sports betting bill, the five-member Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) began creating rules and regulations for licensing operators. The agency estimated that approximately 225 rules needed to be implemented and moved to expedite the process by indicating that it would issue temporary licenses. The MGC announced the draft timeframe during a public meeting Thursday morning.
MGC Executive Director Karen Wells stressed that the timeline discussed for launching sports betting was not set in stone and is a “jumping off point.”
“I would point out, make sure the public is aware, this is not a definitive timeline. This is a tool for discussion, and that this will help guide the conversation.”
Wells indicated the launch date was the “most aggressive one possible.”
Not All Commissioners On Same Page
The discussion did not come without some heated debate. Commissioner Nakisha Skinner questioned the feasibility of the launch dates several times. At one point, she asked, “Why such an aggressive timeline? Why is that what’s being advanced?” She later mentioned non-public conversations with other commissioners on sportsbook operators’ concerns about getting sports wagering launched in the state.
MGC chair Cathy Judd-Stein sought to reassure Skinner that there is no predetermined date to launch sports betting in the state and that everything is up for discussion and modification.
“If we decide we don’t want to have a deadline or timeline today, that’s on the table too,” Judd-Stein said.
Commissioner Eileen O’Brien seemed to agree with some of Skinner’s points about the “aggressiveness” of a timeline to launch and voiced concerns about making sure the process is completed in a manner “that maximizes the benefit and minimizes the harm” for patrons. In addition, O’Brien indicated that she was worried about the process being unfair to smaller companies and that it might impede the MGC’s goals of ensuring community engagement, diversity, and inclusion.
“I want to get the best applications possible,” O’Brien said.
Commissioner Bradford R. Hill and Jordan Maynard supported the proposed launch based on expectations for wagering during the NFL season.
“I fully intended, when this bill was passed, that we would be able to place a bet for the Super Bowl,” Hill said.
Since the information put forth by the commission for an actual start date is not official, it’s possible that the timeline could be extended well into the spring, a point that the Judd-Stein mentioned after much of the debate. The draft application form for a sports wagering application is over 20 pages long and the requirements listed will most likely exclude some of the operators that have already expressed interest. The commission indicated that it expects about 35 applications. The MGC also has to decide how much time will be allocated to receive public comment on the application.
Pros and cons: Universal Sportsbook Starts Dates vs Staggered Start Dates
Who Can Offer Sports Betting In Massachusetts?
Under the state’s sports betting law, the three casino operators in the state, live horse racing venues, and online sportsbooks will be able to offer sports wagering in Massachusetts. However, only seven licenses are available for online sportsbooks. Over 40 companies have shown interest in obtaining a license, including established names such as FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and others.
The NBA season begins Oct. 18 when the Celtics host rival Philadelphia 76ers and honor legend Bill Russell.
Expected Sportsbooks And Welcome Offers
Along with the state’s sports betting launch, we expect bettors to have many great Massachusetts welcome bonuses and promos available to them. Most sportsbooks offer these kinds of promos to new users when they launch in a new state. Here are some of the offers available in Massachusetts:
- DraftKings Massachusetts >> Get 20% deposit match bonus up to $1,000 (and $50 free bet with a minimum $5 deposit)
- BetMGM Massachusetts >> Get up to $1,000 with a risk-free bet (Use code SHARP)
- Caesars Sportsbook Massachusetts >> Get $1,500 with a risk-free bet (Use code SHARPBET15)
- BetRivers Massachusetts >> Get 100% deposit match bonus up to $250 (Use code SHARP250)
- FanDuel Sportsbook Massachusetts >> Get up to $1,000 with a no sweat first beet
- PointsBet Massachusetts >> Get up to $2,000 with a risk-free fixed odds bet or PointsBetting (Use code BESTOFFER)
Key Dates for Pro Sports Teams in Massachusetts
Massachusetts sports bettors could soon have seemingly-endless betting markets to choose from. The state is no stranger to big-time sports teams, as Massachusetts is home to iconic sports franchises such as the Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, Boston Bruins, and Boston Red Sox. Sports fans will be able to bet on leagues such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, and more.
- NFL – Season began on Sept. 8 and concludes with Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12
- NHL – Season begins Oct. 7
- NBA – Season begins Oct. 18 when the Boston Celtics host rival Philadelphia 76ers and honor legend Bill Russell
- MLS – Season in progress, MLS Cup Final on Nov. 5