Massachusetts Reveals Mixed Group of Sports Betting Suitors
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images. Pictured: Boston Red Sox fans at Fenway Park
All the usual suspects, and some fresh faces, are throwing their hat into Massachusetts' online sports betting ring – but is it too many?
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Wednesday said it's received paperwork from 23 companies hoping to win an online sports betting license:
- Bally Bet
- Caesars Sportsbook
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- Mohegan Digital
- Penn Sports Interactive (Barstool)
- Underdog Sports Wagering
Only 15 will make it, under the sports betting law signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in August. Eight of those will be tied to casinos and racetracks – a few of which have partnered with BetMGM, WynnBet and Barstool Sportsbook.
That leaves five spots for books partnering with retail entities and seven "untethered" licenses. Those will be awarded via a point system determined by the commission, which will take into account things such as presence in other states and economic impact on Massachusetts.
Volume Many Complicate Launch Timeline
Earlier this month the commission voted to start retail sports betting before the Super Bowl in February and online before the Men's NCAA Tournament in March – but that would depend on how many applicants they got, commissioners warned.
“Assuming less than 15 [applicants], we can meet March Madness, is one thing, but there needs to be an understanding of the public that may not happen if we get 40 of these,” Commissioner Eileen O’Brien said at the time.
The commission will have to be a little more selective with determining untethered licenses. These are only scoping surveys, meant to aid regulators with background information before the application deadline closes Friday.
Offshore Sportsbooks Give it a Shot
Whittling down the list of applicants could actually be a breeze.
Fanlogic and Easywin appear to be offshore operators operating out of Costa Rica and Nigeria.
If the gaming commission has a pulse on gaming, they won't be considered.
Fanatics, Betr and the Newcomers
Massachusetts will be the ninth largest state with online sports betting when it launches, so it's no surprise FanDuel and Boston-based DraftKings are interested.
Fanatics, Betr and Underdog headline the newcomers. Each has also applied for a license in Ohio, once it launches in January – though that's a much less competitive process.
Sports manufacturing behemoth Fanatics's long-anticipated foray into sports betting starts with 15-20 states next year, CEO Michael Rubin said earlier this month.
Winning a competitive license in Massachusetts despite no prior gaming experience would be a huge step toward that goal.
Betr, the recently announced micro-betting venture between Simplebet co-founder Joey Levy and YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul, could be well positioned for a Massachusetts license despite its lack of experience.
Betr, a micro-betting focussed app geared toward young people, will have some strict regulations on betting based on age and will prohibit users from funding accounts with credit cards, Levy announced last week.
That's in line with Massachusetts law, which limits credit deposits and leaves room for regulators to institute restrictions on advertising to minors.
The commission will provide an update on licensing at its meeting on Thursday.