Massachusetts Regulator Emphasizes Responsible Sports Betting Efforts Ahead of Mobile Launch

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission says it is “broadening our research focus and associated policy, strategy, and practice supports” ahead of the expected launch of mobile sports betting.

Mar 7, 2023 • 11:14 ET • 3 min read
David Pastrnak Boston Bruins NHL
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The regulator of the online sports betting sites scheduled to launch in Massachusetts later this week plans on expanding its responsible-gaming efforts amid the increasing availability of event wagering. 

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM), a campaign spearheaded by the National Council on Problem Gambling that is supposed to make the public aware of the issue and the availability of resources to assist them. 

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) noted last week that it was pleased to recognize March as PGAM, with the regulator adding that it "continues to advance the nation’s most comprehensive gambling research agenda and strives to mobilize it to reduce gambling harm."

More than 60 gambling-related research reports have been released by the MGC, but some of the commission's more recent efforts are in connection with the launch of legal sports betting in the state. Three casinos have been taking sports bets in Massachusetts since the end of January, and the MGC announced the creation of a sports betting-specific voluntary self-exclusion list before the sportsbooks opened to the general public. 

Casting a wider net

The MGC added last week that it is “broadening our research focus and associated policy, strategy, and practice supports” ahead of the expected launch of the mobile component of Massachusetts sports betting on Friday.

As many as seven online sportsbooks could start taking bets on March 10 at 10 a.m. ET in the state if all goes according to plan. 

“With sports wagering becoming available in the Commonwealth, ensuring all players have the resources they need is paramount to the MGC and responsible gaming efforts,” said Mark Vander Linden, director of research and responsible gaming at the commission, in a press release. “By mobilizing the data and research we have collected, we can advance responsible gaming strategies, practices, and policies, as well as prevention, treatment, and recovery resources.”

One study the MGC published last year was regarding legal sports betting in the U.S. and its potential effects in Massachusetts. UMass Amherst researchers conducted the study, and, among other things, it noted that around 13% to 20% of the population of Massachusetts was already wagering on sports, despite it being illegal at that time. 

The report warned that legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts could increase problem gambling rates but only modestly, because of a few factors. One was that the current rate of sports betting in Massachusetts looked to be similar to states that had already allowed it for several years, which was likely due in part to the availability of wagering with offshore, online, and out-of-state sportsbooks. 

“Only a small portion of the population currently participates or ever will participate in sports betting,” the report added. “Even if there are significantly higher rates of problem gambling among those who participate in sports betting in Massachusetts, this will have a fairly small effect on the overall problem gambling rate for the entire population.” 

The research report made several recommendations, such as restricting celebrity endorsements, which it said tend to pull in a younger demographic of bettors. One of the MGC's advertising regulations bans celebrity endorsements "designed to appeal primarily" to people under 21, the state's minimum age for sports betting.

With mobile sportsbooks anticipated to launch in just days in Massachusetts, the MGC is also highlighting its statewide responsible gaming program, GameSense. Advisors for the program are available at all hours of the day, every day, at the state's three casinos, online, and over the phone. 

“Reducing gambling-related harm and promoting safe play are central pieces of the mission of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission,” MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said in the release. “Our efforts to offer programs and initiatives to achieve those goals in understanding and addressing problem gambling are a Commission-wide effort that includes everyone. We are proud to once again recognize and promote Problem Gambling Awareness Month.”

Pages related to this topic

Popular Content

Legal Canadian sports betting

Best Canadian betting sites Ontario sports betting
Covers 25 Years Logo Established in 1995,
Covers is the world
leader in sports
betting information.
Covers is verified safe by: Evalon Logo GPWA Logo GDPR Logo GeoTrust Logo Evalon Logo