bet365 Dropping Bid for Sports Betting License in Massachusetts

bet365's withdrawal comes as the U.K.-based bookmaker has been expanding in the U.S. — but at a cost.

Jan 25, 2023 • 12:42 ET • 3 min read
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One of the biggest online sports betting sites in the world is abandoning its efforts for a mobile-wagering license in the Bay State. 

bet365 confirmed to Covers on Wednesday that they are withdrawing their application for a “tethered” license for mobile sports betting in Massachusetts. The company had no further comment. 

A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) said Tuesday they had received a request from the Stoke-on-Trent, U.K.-based bookmaker to pull that application for a so-called “Category 3” permit.

bet365 had been seeking a mobile sports betting license that would have been tied to Raynham Park, a simulcast-wagering facility located south of Boston. A spokesperson for Raynham Park said Monday that bet365 was no longer the former live-racing facility’s mobile sports betting partner and that they had no new partner yet. 

For now, then, bet365 has abandoned its efforts to access the yet-to-open Massachusetts market. The MGC’s timeline is to start retail sports betting at casinos on January 31 and to launch mobile sports betting across the state in March. 

But if bet365 is over Massachusetts, that means bettors in the state will not have access to one of the biggest online sportsbooks in the world. While bet365 has been relatively slow to move into the U.S. market, it has been gradually expanding its operations there, obtaining licenses and launching in Colorado, New Jersey, and Ohio

That expansion has cost money, though. And the U.S.-related expenses are in addition to ones bet365 racked up growing elsewhere, such as in the Netherlands and the Canadian province of Ontario.

bet365 Group Ltd. recently reported financial results for the year ended March 27, 2022, which showed revenue rose 2% over the previous year to approximately £2.9 billion. Profit, however, fell to £33.1 million, down more than 90% from the year before. One of the reasons for the drop in profit was the "significant" cost of raising brand awareness in new markets, the company said. 

"The Group will continue with its long-standing policy of pursuing licenses in regulated markets and, given its experience, believes it is well placed to benefit long-term in those countries where commercially viable regulation is adopted," bet365's latest results stated. "During the period significant development resource was committed in preparation for launching into new markets and to support changes in countries where the existing regulatory framework was being amended."

There are other licenses available in Massachusetts. The sports-betting law and current gaming infrastructure in the state allow for up to 15 licenses for online sportsbooks to be awarded, eight of which are tethered to casinos and racetracks and seven of which are independent of brick-and-mortar locations. 

The MGC has already found 11 companies suitable for mobile sports betting licenses, leaving four permits up for grabs. When the commission could review applications for those remaining permits is undecided.

“In terms of your scheduling questions on when the MGC will take up additional applications that has not yet been discussed at a public meeting, and as you likely are aware, our scheduling happens during public agenda setting meetings,” the commission’s spokesperson told Covers. “We will announce more on this in the weeks ahead.” 

The other guys

Still, although bet365 may be out on Massachusetts (at least for now), bettors in the state will have multiple options in placing a wager.  

Retail sports betting can start next week at Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, MGM Springfield in Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville. Then, in March, there could be as many as 11 online sportsbooks launching, including BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel

More in-person wagering options will emerge as time goes on as well. Suffolk Downs and Raynham Park, as  “Category 2” entities in the state, are eligible for licenses that would allow them to offer legal sports betting at their facility and through one digital platform. 

Raynham Park announced this week that it is partnering with Caesars Sportsbook for retail wagering. Caesars is also on track to launch mobile sports betting in the state as soon as possible. 

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