The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has delayed another vote on a high-profile MA online sports betting license.
Caesars Sportsbook, which applied for a Category 3 online sports betting license tethered to Encore Boston Harbor, will have to wait to learn if it can launch in the Bay State. The MGC met for nine hours before postponing the decision Wednesday.
Two other sportsbooks had to wait for their turn while the Caesars application was debated. BetMGM and MGM Springfield were in a similar position as the MGC declined to vote on MGM’s Category 1 retail application last week. The reasoning was it was too closely tied to the BetMGM Category 3 application.
Each of those applications was supposed to be reviewed again, but due to the length of discussion on the Caesars application, their review was pushed to Monday.
The only applications approved so far? WynnBET’s online license and Encore Boston Harbor’s retail license.
What is Keeping Caesars from Approval?
The primary issue keeping Caesars Sportsbook Massachusetts from approval right now is the company’s past indiscretions, partnerships with colleges (marketing deals with LSU and Michigan State), the Caesars tractor-trailer activation center, and a few other minor items.
Essentially, the MGC is finding that Caesars is not doing its part in trying to limit advertising to those under 21 age groups.
The MGC also pointed out that Caesars has not adopted the American Gaming Association responsible gaming program or the responsible gaming program used in Massachusetts, GameSense. The AGA standards say it is unacceptable to market sports betting unless 73.6% of the targeted group is of legal gambling age. Caesars has its own threshold for that, and it is under 70%.
The compliance vice president of Caesars, Jeff Hendricks, has defended the company. He has said that the Caesars responsible gaming program is “distinct,” albeit different from the AGA’s. Hendricks shared that his company is committed to responsible gaming advertising, mentioning their partnership with the Mannings.
Hendricks did say that their company could not help that, at times, advertisements would be seen by those under 21. However, Caesars does not allow anyone under 21 to use its sports betting services.
What is Next for Caesars Sportsbook Massachusetts?
The MGC has not yet given Caesars an exact date for the next discussion of their application.
The MGC gave Caesars instructions for when they do, though. Executives must provide a list of every indiscretion, violation, or infraction the company has had in states where sports betting is already legal.
The dates mentioned for Caesars to get another chance in front of the MGC are Dec. 20 and Jan. 4. Caesars executives have shared that they are ready whenever the meeting occurs.
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Potential MA Sports Betting Launch Delay
A fair question surrounding all of the vote delays for various sportsbooks is whether there is going to be a potential delay in the launch of sports betting in Massachusetts. While there has yet to be any mention of this directly from the MGC, with license approval taking longer than anticipated, it is a fair question.
Potential retail launch dates in January have been mentioned. But with scheduled January meeting dates on record for the MGC, that is starting to look less likely.
Many states have had to go through this same license approval process, and typically it has been easy. There are many reports of frustration around the Massachusetts approval process. The license approval delay is unprecedented in many respects.