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First Six Operators Approved for Temporary Untethered Massachusetts Online Sports Betting Licenses

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Updated Apr 29, 2024 · 2:33 PM PDT

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  • Bally’s, Betr, Betway, DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet approved for temporary online sports betting licenses
  • Commissioners approve the six operators, but recognized the difficulties of the ‘compressed timeline’
  • Massachusetts online sports betting will kick off in early March

After nearly three weeks of hearings, discussions, and hours of evaluations, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has agreed to award temporary Massachusetts online sports betting licenses to six sports betting operators.

Bally’s, Betr, Betway, DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet will be eligible to launch their services when Massachusetts online sports betting begins in early March. All six operators are untethered and operate without partnerships to state casinos.

“Sports wagering is going to be beneficial to the commonwealth…it will bring immense economic benefits to the commonwealth,” Commissioner Jordan Maynard said.

Concerns Noted Over Accelerated Timeline

The Commissioners approved the operators for temporary licensure in the state, but several shared their frustrations over the intense timeframe when the decisions were made.

Commissioner Nakisha Skinner said it was difficult for her to make necessary evaluations on specific financial details for each operator during the “compressed timeline.” The limited timeframe, she said, has left her with no choice but to approve the applications.

The most biting comments of the day came from Commissioner Eileen O’Brien, who described herself as the “naysayer” of the five commissioners. There will be economic benefits, but there will also be harms, and it’s difficult to balance each with the knowledge that the most vulnerable population negatively affected by sports betting are those in their early 20s.

“While I share your enthusiasm to some extent, I guess I’m the naysayer of the five where I’m more cautious in just saying that we have six viable, unique, interesting applicants who satisfy the minimum criteria, and therefore we’re good to go,” she said.

There was “more room for analysis, comparative analysis, beyond what we’ve done,” O’Brien believed.

O’Brien was the lone commissioner to actually vote against one of the applicants. She cast a “no” vote against Betr’s application, saying she held serious concerns about their affiliation with social media star and professional fighter Jake Paul.

Paul is the President of Betr.

“I was conflicted on this application. I see the merits. I see the positives and negatives…I have concerns about the demographic and the tying of a sports celebrity to a group that’s in that vulnerable age group. I wish we were seeing this applicant a little later on down the road, and for those reasons I’m nay,” she said.

Extensive Pool of Applicants

Despite the concerns, the MGC eventually approved all six operators, including notable names like DraftKings and FanDuel.

MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein lauded the applicant pool, though she did say she expected more applications than just the six it received. The state allows for up to seven untethered online sports betting licenses.

“I see this collective pool each bringing to the table a uniqueness, bringing innovation, to keep things fresh, to offer products players are going to want, and to be that economic driver the legislation was hoping for, both through revenue, but also through jobs,” she said.

Each operator showed a dedication to responsible gaming and diversity, Hill said, and each met the necessary criteria to operate in the state.

He complimented the MGC for its dedication and thorough work to license the operators.

“I want to congratulate all the applicants who received temporary licenses today. It’s a day to celebrate an industry starting up in Massachusetts, but I want to recognize the staff of the MGC. There was a lot of work that went into a very aggressive deadline that we set up as a commission,” he said.

Massachusetts Online and Retail Sports Betting on its Way

The commonwealth will launch online sports betting in early March prior to the start of the NCAA men and women’s basketball tournament.

In addition to the untethered operators approved today, five other tethered online sports betting operators will launch in March. The approved operators and partnerships are as follows:

Retail sports betting is set to launch on Jan. 31 and the commission will unveil the launch time during its Jan. 20 meeting.

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