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Massachusetts regulators deny operators universal sports betting launch

Neil Roarty profile picture
Updated 1 month ago on

2 min read

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Massachusetts
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Following DraftKings appeal to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to reassess the planned staggered retail/online sports betting launch, the regulator has categorically declined the approach and decided to pursue its initial launch plan. The initial launch plan will allow retail sports betting to launch up to two months ahead of mobile/online sports betting, with retail going live in January and mobile not due to go live until March.

The reasoning remains staunch: the Massachusetts Gaming Commission argues that at least ‘some’ mobile operators require a competitive bidding process, whereas the retail licenses are all existing Massachusetts gaming entities that will simply be adding an online skin.

DrafKings had sent a letter to the Gaming Commission, giving an agenda point for Thursday’s Commission meeting stating “Commissioner Updates: a) Discussion on Request from DraftKings for Reconsideration of Commission Vote on Staggered launch”. Analysts expected it to be rejected, and so appears it to be the case.

DraftKings argument for a universal launch read as follows: “This decision to launch mobile sports wagering after retail sports wagering would artificially limit consumer choice and consumer protections, stunt the state’s sports wagering market, and put mobile first operators, such as DraftKings, at a competitive disadvantage compared to others”.

It added “Allowing certain sports wagering operators to accept wagers before other sports wagering operators creates an unlevel playing field”. The firm cited examples with FanDuel in both Pennsylvania and Indiana in which first movers gained significant market advantage and have since not relinquished it.

Carley Judd-Stein, Chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission stated: “I read the letter completely, I didn’t see any new circumstances or any point of clarification that we needed to address”. Commissioner Bradford Hill added: ” don’t think we need to revisit this; I think we had a very good conversation back when we voted on this. I continue to look at reports throughout the nation and other places regarding a staggered launch, and I feel very comfortable with what we did was the right thing to do. I think people are concerned we might be giving a leg up if we do this staggered launch, I don’t agree with that, not with the reports that I’ve seen”.

Although there were concerns from Commissioner Jordan Maynard, the census was that there would be no advantage; and evidence from states prior have been disregarded.

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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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