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Commissioners Preaching Patience for Massachusetts Sports Betting Launch

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Sep 9, 2022 · 7:28 AM PDT

Mac Jones reacts in disbelief
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
  • Massachusetts Gaming Commissioners expressed dismay at false information floating around Commonwealth about sports betting
  • Sports betting will not launch in three weeks, despite rumors
  • Several regulatory steps were taken at the recent commission meeting

Massachusetts sports betting is not launching in three weeks, despite rumors floating around the Commonwealth.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission held a marathon 7-hour meeting yesterday, taking a few incremental regulatory steps towards launching sports betting in the state. However, several commission members expressed frustration at rumors floating through Massachusetts that a retail launch of sports betting is a mere several weeks away.

Sports betting is still likely to be launched in late 2022 or early 2023.

Massachusetts Sports Betting Still Months Away

Commissioner Brad Hill had harsh words for the “Toucher and Rich” sports talk radio show on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, as he listened to a guest segment while driving into the meeting that claimed the state would be launching sports betting by Oct. 1.

“Some think we may be able to take a bet in three weeks at brick and mortar casinos or simulcasting facilities. That’s obviously not going to happen,” Hill said.

It’s frustrating, Hill said, that hundreds of thousands of listeners to the show were receiving the misinformation.

Gaming Commissioner Chair Cathy Judd-Stein echoed his sentiments and warned Commonwealth residents that there are currently no legal sports betting methods in the state. The Gaming Commission is taking steps to implement regulatory safeguards into the process for state sports bettors, she said, and any options available right now are unregulated.

“The word is out that you can bet right now, or you can bet in two weeks. No. I want to provide consumer protections for those interested in betting,” she said.

The Gaming Commission took several small steps to get the process moving, as it approved a technology provision by a vote of 4-0 with one abstention. The commissioners also unanimously approved an annual sports betting budget of $2.1 million, which calls for up to 12 full-time employees and 6 part-time employees.

The Gaming Commission also gave its staff the go-ahead to start drafting regulations for sports betting license application criteria and selection.

No Celebrity Endorsements or In-Game Wagers?

An ad-hoc sports betting study from Dr. Rachel Volberg of UMass Donahue Institute was presented to the Gaming Commission at the end of the meeting. Volberg cautioned against the effect sports betting may have on problem gamers in the state, but offered several suggestions to potentially counteract the harm it may cause.

Volberg said data has shown that in certain circumstances celebrity endorsements of sports betting can negatively impact those with gambling addictions. She urged the commissioners to consider a ban on celebrity endorsements or advertisements for Massachusetts sports betting. Several countries have already taken up this precaution to fight against problem gaming, she noted.

Additionally, Volberg said the commissioners should consider prohibiting in-game sports betting. Data has shown that in-game sports betting disproportionately affects problem gamers, Volberg said.

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