Sports betting sites in the Bay State will have plenty on the menu when legal wagering begins in Massachusetts, although not every sport made the initial cut.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) spent time on Tuesday approving the list of allowable wagers and leagues on which gambling is permitted just days away from the start of legal sports betting in the state.
That approved catalog includes wagers allowed under Massachusetts law, such as single-game bets, teasers, parlays, totals, moneyline bets, exchange wagering, in-game and in-play betting, and props.
Operators also submitted their wish lists to the commission. Those requests, most of which were approved, included ensuring point-spread wagering, futures, cashouts, and each-way wagering are all available for sports betting sites in Massachusetts to offer.
A fine selection
Legal sports betting is set to start in Massachusetts in a week, as three casinos in the Bay State can start taking wagers on the morning of January 31. Mobile sports betting will begin in Massachusetts in March, according to the MGC’s timeline.
Figuring out what people can wager on is a key part of the MGC’s work. And, while commissioners were mostly fine with the wagering proposed, they did have reservations about certain bets and sports.
The meat-and-potatoes of sports betting didn't raise any eyebrows among the MGC commissions. So, when bettors head to the window or a kiosk next week, they'll have MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and games from other mainstream leagues on which to wager.
But chess, cornhole, awards wagering, and the Olympics were among the sports and events that prompted debate among commissioners. The reasons for their concerns and questions varied and depended on the sport — cornhole and chess have recently grappled with cheating scandals, for example.
Those issues prompted the MGC to prohibit wagering on several events and sports, at least for the time being. The MGC could revisit its bans in the future.
In the meantime, though, commissioners approved a sports-betting catalog with a few omissions. Here are the leagues, sports, and events that residents 21 and older WILL be able to wager on (although this is not a comprehensive list):
- Australian Football League
- Badminton World Federation events
- Major League Baseball
- NCAA baseball
- World Baseball Classic
- Triple-A minor league baseball
- Chinese, Japanese, and Korean baseball
- National Basketball Association
- Women's National Basketball Association
- NCAA basketball
- Euroleague basketball
- Professional Bowlers Association
- Professional Bull Riders
- American Ultimate Disc League
- National Football League
- NCAA Football
- Canadian Football League
- PGA Tour golf
- National Hockey League
- College and professional lacrosse
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
- Formula 1
- League drafts
Here is what will NOT be available for wagering, at least at the start of legal sports betting in Massachusetts:
- Virtual events and esports
- Sports or sporting events overseen by Belorussian or Russian governing bodies and leagues
- Jai alai
- Summer and Winter Olympics
Robust enough for you?
The Olympic ban was driven by concerns about wagering on events that are decided by judges. Still, it appears likely that the MGC will revisit its position on the Olympics soon, after commissioners receive more information.
“I would hope that this would be brought back to us very, very quickly so that we can have a vote on it and discussion,” Commissioner Bradford Hill said Tuesday.
MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein called the wagering catalog a “dynamic” list and noted the need to be competitive with illegal bookmakers and regulated markets in other states.
“We're very fortunate to have it be robust,” the chair said. “I think it's competitive with the illegal market.”