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Massachusetts Sports Betting Is Likely Still Several Months Out

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Aug 5, 2022 · 6:45 AM PDT

Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws a pass at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
  • Don’t expect the state to flip a switch and launch sports betting before the NFL season
  • The Massachusetts Gaming Commission cautioned the state is still months out from a sports betting launch
  • Late 2022 launch is still possible for Massachusetts sports betting

Sports bettors are enthralled with the recent passage of the Massachusetts sports betting bill, but regulators are cautioning it may take longer to launch sports betting than several politicians have mentioned.

Earlier this week, House and Senate representatives agreed to a Massachusetts sports betting bill to legalize online and retail sports betting. The bill has not yet been signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker (R), but it’s expected he will do so.

Massachusetts Sports Betting Will Not Happen Overnight

While several lawmakers made comments that Massachusetts sports betting was ready to shoot out of a cannon and launch soon, members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission publicly noted at its Wednesday meeting that it will take much longer to launch than what some believe.

“I want the public to understand…this isn’t something that will happen overnight,” Massachusetts Gaming Commission Commissioner Brad Hill said.

The commission needs to do this right, he said, and will not compromise the integrity of gaming and the quality of product that will be regulated in Massachusetts.

“I’ve seen some quotes in the newspaper, from the public, and other that they hope to have this thing up and running in a very short time. This is going to take a little longer than people anticipate. I’m ok with that, I want to do it right, but the public needs to understand it’s quite a process we need to go through.”

Regulations, licensure work, and policy hurdles need to be agreed upon before sports betting licenses can be awarded and Massachusetts sports betting can be launched.

Tempering Sports Betting Timeline Expectations

According to MassLive, earlier this week Sen. Eric Lesser gave an interview on Boston radio and said the commission could begin issuing sports betting licenses after 90 days. While the commission does have a pathway to expedite the process by issuing temporary sports betting licenses at the discretion of the commission’s executive director. The temporary sports betting licenses could be issued for the price of $1 million and be eligible for one year, or until a final determination on the entity’s sports betting license application is made.

However, the commission members said more details need to be agreed upon for temporary licenses before deciding to potentially issue any in the coming months.

“I don’t want to see us lower our standards for anybody, whether it’s for a temporary license or a regular license in terms of suitability,” Hill said.

So When Will Massachusetts Be Able to Bet?

As you can see, the hopes for a quick several month turnaround to be ready for NFL Week 1 will not happen in the Commonwealth. After the initial rush of adrenaline, reality is setting in for just how much work needs to be completed before Massachusetts sports betting can launch.

After Baker signs the bill, sports betting rules and regulations will need to be approved, a licensing application process will have to be fleshed out by the commission, copious background checks and testing from operators will have to be accomplished before any bets in the Commonwealth can be taken.

On average it takes about eight months for a state to take its first bet after approving a bill. However, as mentioned before Massachusetts does have an expedited licensure process and the benefit of seeing how other states have handled the sports betting launch process.

Would a turnaround during the NFL season be doable? It’s feasible to think the state could potentially start taking some kind of bets in late 2022, be it retail or online. Additionally, the Super Bowl is on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. That’s nearly seven months away. It’s certainly not out of the question for sports betting in the Commonwealth to be up and running by then.

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