Oct 24, 2022 - Sports

Massachusetts online sports betting rollout in question

Illustration of the football, money tongue, and basketball emojis.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Nearly two-dozen companies have expressed interest in a temporary online sports betting license in Massachusetts, confirming suspicions that regulators will have their plates full as they review applications and roll out the industry by March.

Driving the news: Regulators gave prospective applicants until Oct. 17 to fill out a "scoping survey" to indicate their interest in the license.

  • Twenty-three companies have expressed interest in an online license, state officials said last week.
  • Regulators can issue up to seven of those licenses, per state law.

Of note: The state's three casinos and two simulcasting centers put their names in for in-person licenses, as did the Great Meadowbrook Farm.

Why it matters: Massachusetts is still months away from sports betting going live, but the larger the pool of applicants for the online (Category 3) license, the harder it will be for regulators to vet them and issue the winners temporary licenses by their self-imposed deadline.

  • The longer it takes, the more tax revenue Massachusetts leaves on the table.

Catch up fast: Regulators set a tentative rollout deadline for in-person betting (e.g. casinos, simulcastors) in late January and online betting in early March in time for the Super Bowl and the NCAA tournament, respectively.

  • But the agreement on those tentative deadlines came after nearly two days of intense debate, and only after regulators agreed to a clause enabling them to push back the rollout if they needed more time to review applications.

What they're saying: "If all 29 are actually going to submit, we may want to have a conversation about how long that's going to take and our resources," said Karen Wells, Massachusetts Gaming Commission's executive director, at Thursday's meeting, per the State House News Service.

  • "But if, hypothetically, only 10 or 11 or 12, that might be different,"

Details: The prospective applicants for online licenses range from Boston-based DraftKings to Mohegan Digital and BetMGM to Betr (the startup YouTuber Jake Paul co-founded).

  • Among the applicants are a handful of smaller players — namely New York-based Underdog Sports Wagering and Nigeria-based Easywin — that stand out from more established competitors like FanDuel or those spun out of casinos, per Gaming Today.

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