Massachusetts gaming regulators yet to reveal their hand for online sports betting licensing

Neil Roarty profile picture
Updated 1 month ago on

2 min read

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is keeping its cards close to its chest with regards to how it will distribute the 16 mobile sports betting licenses; with the application deadline of November 21st just a month away.

Massachusetts will have six retail sportsbooks, and up to 16 online sports betting licenses which is the most for any state in the region. The state’s three casinos will have two online skins tethered, and the three off-track betting facilities will also have one online skin apiece. The three casinos are likely to use their first skins for their flagship sports betting brand, but partner with another commercial operator for the second skin in a deal sorted by the landbased entity.

That leaves a total of seven licenses to be distributed that are not directly linked to a Massachusetts landbased entity. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has received 23 scoping surveys from companies exhibiting interest in one of the 16 available licenses for online sports betting, thus showing significant excess demand (considering just seven will be distributed by the commission). Previously, the regulator has faced criticism from smaller operators who claim the non-refundable US$200,000 application fee is a huge barrier to entry for smaller, local operators with the hope of joining the sports betting ranks.

The interesting dynamic is now whether online operators decide to attempt to bypass the MGC selection process, by partnering early with one of the three casinos who have an extra skin. The advantages to this are obvious: a guaranteed skin through an operator, and avoiding what’s set to be an extremely competitive tender process. On the contrary, each retail venue will know the level of demand and the market access fee charged will be driven up as a result.

As of yet, the MGC has not revealed how it will be scoring applications and with the deadline fast approaching, it remains unknown as to whether there will be further clarity. Until the deadline has been reached and the definitive number of applications is known, it’s unknown just how much competition there will be for the seven untethered slots available.

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Neil Roarty is a gambling industry veteran with over 15 years experience writing and editing in both Europe and North America. He is a regular speaker at gambling conferences and appears as an author in many industry publications.

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