Encore Boston Harbor Gets First Nod In Massachusetts Sports Betting Journey

As the state of Massachusetts gears up for its inaugural sports betting launch, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has awarded Massachusetts’ first ever sports betting license, to Encore Boston Harbor of Wynn Resorts.

The Everett-based casino plans to offer 10 live betting windows at its sports bar along with the 123-foot-long video wall that opened in September of last year.

Encore is one of three casinos vying for a retail sport betting license in Massachusetts. It joins Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield as interested parties, but as of now is the only one of the three establishments with the go ahead. The MGC met to discuss the other two licenses in preceding days, however the decision to vote on them was deferred due to various concerns.

Legislation allows these three casinos to have up to two online skins each. Encore will operate WynnBet along with a Caesars Sportsbook. Pending regulatory approval, Plainridge Park will operate its Barstool Sportsbook and a Fanatics Sportsbook while MGM Springfield will solely run BetMGM.

MGC Raises An Eyebrow

While Encore ultimately got the go ahead, the MGC cited concerns for this casino as well. Most notably, Encore’s plan to place 20 sports betting kiosks in the parking lot of their casino for an “express” betting experience. To implement this, the request would have to be approved in its own right. The casino plans to file a petition with the MGC to expand the official casino floor to include the parking garage, while the MGC decided it would approve the Encore license, but follow up with questions regarding the kiosk operations at a later meeting.

“I’m not 100 percent convinced one way or the other on whether the gaming floor should be expanded to include that,” Commissioner Eileen O’Brien said “I just make that point that my thumbs up on the sufficiency of this application has absolutely no bearing on what I’m going to say or vote on when it comes back in front of us procedurally for a request to actually expand and create that space.”

“We are preparing a convenient and quick way for sports wagerers to place their wager without having to enter the casino,” per Encore Boston Harbor’s sports betting application.

Next Steps

The MGC is currently targeting late January for the rollout of its Category 1 retail sports betting market and early March for its Category 3 mobile sports betting launch. An exact launch date has not been announced, but having retail sports betting prior to the Super Bowl and mobile sports betting prior to the NCAA March Madness tournament, was considered when making the timeline.

Next week, the MGC is planning on meeting to discuss the five “tethered” mobile sports betting applications (WynnBet, Caesars, Barstool, Fanatics, BetMGM) and dive deeper into approval, or lack thereof, of Plainridge Park and MGM Springfield. Shortly after, they will turn their attention to the competitive online sports betting application process regarding mobile-only operators (Category 3) that are not tethered to one of the three casinos. Category 3 (untethered) license applications came from Bally Bet, Betr, Betway, DraftKings, FanDuel and Pointsbet.

In total, the MGC received: three Category 1 license applications, five Category 3 license applications tethered to a Category 1 license, six stand-alone Category 3 license applications, and one Category 3 license application tethered to a Category 2 license (racetrack licenses), for a grand total of 15 sports wagering operator applications. 

Mia Fowler is a graduate of Chapman University where she studied business marketing and journalism and played on the women’s soccer team. Following her 16-year journey with soccer, she started writing for Lineups.com. She specifically enjoys analysis of the NFL.

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