Massachusetts Gaming Commission Sticks To Original Launch Strategy Amid DraftKings Request

In a letter, dated Oct. 13, from DraftKings to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), DraftKings requested changes to the proposed sports betting timeline. At a meeting on Oct. 27, the MGC denied said requests. 

Earlier in October, DraftKings sent a letter to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) for a universal sports betting launch date in Massachusetts to be considered. This comes after the MGC voted 4-0 in favor of staggered launch dates for in-person sports betting and mobile sports betting at a meeting on Oct. 6-7. It took the commission over 10 hours of discussion across these two days, to settle on the launch strategy. 

Under the approved timeline, retail sports betting at casinos will launch in late January, prior to the Super Bowl, while mobile sports betting will come in March, prior to March Madness.

DraftKings’ Push Back

The letter from DraftKings to the MGC, found on page 155 of the Oct. 27 meeting agenda, read: “DraftKings urges the Commission to set one universal launch date for all sports wagering in the Commonwealth that encompasses both in person and online wagering.”

This was not the first time that DraftKings opposed two different launches. In a Sept. 22 roundtable discussion between the MGC and sportsbook operators, every operator was accepting of a retail sports betting launch before an online launch, except for DraftKings.

The two-page letter cited several reasons as to why the staggered launch proposal should be reversed. “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.”

“Others” may be competitors such as Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, and WynnBet, which all have brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in Massachusetts. DraftKings does not, despite it being headquartered in Boston. 

DraftKings also compared Massachusetts to several other states such as Arizona, Kansas, and Ohio who launched or plan to launch both types of sports betting at the same time. 

MGC Responds This Week

Six hours into the Oct. 27 MGC meeting, the commissioners rejected DraftKings’ proposal, with little hesitation.

“There’s nothing in this filing that is new or correcting a record. They spoke their mind on the 22nd and we were all aware of it when we took the vote,” Commissioner Eileen O’Brien said. 

Commissioner Bradford Hill concurred – “I don’t think we need to revisit this. I think people are concerned that we might be giving a leg up if we do a staggered launch. I don’t agree with that,” Hill said. “I think we’ve really discussed it enough that we don’t need to discuss it again.” 

The rest of the commission, including Commissioners Nakisha Skinner and Jordan Maynard, and Chair Cathy Judd-Stein, agreed.

What’s Next For Massachusetts Sports Betting?

The MGC has set Nov. 21 as the deadline for sportsbook operators to apply for a license that would make them a part of the 2023 launches. While an exact date has not been announced, the commission has loosely named “late January” as the launch date for retail sports betting (Category 1) and “early March” as the launch date for mobile sports betting (Category 3).  The launch date for Category 2 has not yet been determined. 

A prerequisite to the sports betting application itself was submission of a scoping survey – essentially an interest form – from entities seeking licensure. The commission received 29 surveys (see below) with interest in all three categories. Note: these are NOT formal applications, but their interest to apply is implied through submission of the survey. 

Category 3 (untethered online) 

  • Bally Bet
  • bet365
  • Betfred
  • BetMGM
  • Betr
  • BetRivers
  • Betway
  • BuddyBet
  • Caesars Sportsbook
  • Clutchbet
  • DraftKings
  • Easywin
  • Fanatics
  • FanDuel Sportsbook
  • Fanlogic (unregulated offshore)
  • MaximBet
  • Mohegan Digital
  • Novibet
  • Penn Sports Interactive
  • PointsBet
  • Underdog Sports Wagering
  • Unibet
  • WynnBet

Category 1 (retail, two online skins each)

  • Encore Boston Harbor (Wynn)
  • MGM Springfield (BetMGM)
  • Plainridge Park Casino (Barstool Sportsbook) 

Category 2 (racetrack, one online skin each)

  • Raynham Park
  • Suffolk Downs 
  • Commonwealth Equine and Agricultural Center/Great Meadowbrook Farm
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.

Hot Betting News Stories