Massachusetts Deals Final Two Retail Sports Betting Licenses Amid Varying Concerns

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) approved the last of the three available retail sports betting licenses in the state.

After approving Wynn Resorts’ Encore Boston Harbor for a retail sports betting license last week, MGM Springfield and Penn Entertainment’s Plainridge Park, rounded out the state’s three Category 1 retail licensees. 

MGM Springfield & BetMGM

After several hours of review, the MGC approved both MGM Springfield and its tethered online sportsbook BetMGM for licensure in Massachusetts. The commission voted 5-0 in its favor. 

But the road to its approval has not been smooth sailing. First MGM missed the application deadline last month, then the vote on its approval was delayed due to concerns about the BetMGM mobile sportsbook and pending legal matters with it. 

In most recent news, a Massachusetts lawmaker, state Rep. Angelo Puppolo is calling on the MGC to fine MGM Springfield in the amount of $250,000 for its late application. 

“This was a missed opportunity to hold MGM Springfield to the fire on community complaints of discrimination, false reporting, and failing to deliver jobs and economic development as promised,” Puppolo said. 

This contradicts what MGM’s Director of Regional Corporate Communications, Dara Cohen said just last week. “As the largest private investment in Western Massachusetts, we’re proud that we’ve been able to provide the city with more than $100 million in tax revenue to-date. And although we were closed for nearly four months in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and under significant operational restrictions for ten months, we were able to provide our team members with healthcare throughout and the benefits afforded through our Employee Assistance Fund,” Cohen said. 

“We look forward to working with the City of Springfield as it reinvests this revenue in downtown Springfield, and to continue to work towards our shared goal of revitalizing this historic community and reenergizing downtown Springfield,” she continued. 

After even more discussion, the MGC has also decided to approve MGM Springfield’s tethered mobile sportsbook, its very own BetMGM. 

Though BetMGM’s approval comes with two conditions: they must provide a vendor diversity list and provide “timely and ongoing updates” about the confidential legal investigations surrounding BetMGM at the moment.

Plainridge Park & Barstool Sportsbook

Penn Entertainment’s Plainridge Park Casino was also approved for a retail sports betting license, albeit in a completely different way than the two before it. Plainridge Park has received a “temporary” retail license. In the meantime, the MGC will launch an investigation into Barstool Sportsbook, Plainridge Park’s tethered mobile sportsbook. 

Barstool Sports has taken on a controversial reputation over the past year, and the MGC’s Investigation and Enforcement Bureau wants to launch a “suitability review” into the company. 

Commissioner Eileen O’Brien addressed Penn CEO Jay Snowden on the call – “What I am struggling with is marrying that brand with PPC’s sportsbook, which you have elected to brand Barstool, which you elected to do because it gave you the market share and everything else that came with Barstool Sports.”

“You want this, we’re fine with this. Let’s come with language that we can all move forward with,” Snowden said. “As long as we get our temporary licenses, we can move forward with January and March launches.”

The commission is planning on tabling the investigation until after the holidays but before the launch of retail sports betting (late January).

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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