An extended debate took place in Wednesday’s meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that ended with betting on the Super Bowl coin toss not being added to the Massachusetts sports betting catalog.
The commission voted 3-2 opposing the motion to include Super Bowl prop wagers on the coin toss. The possible bets discussed included betting on the coin toss result (heads or tails), the winner of the Super Bowl coin toss, and a prop bet of the coin toss winner to also win the game.
The discussion took nearly an hour of the meeting’s time. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is known for its rigorous regulations governing sports betting in Massachusetts, and the thorough analysis of whether or not to add a seemingly simple wager to the state’s catalog perhaps showcases why. Meanwhile, 22 other jurisdictions allow similar bets on the coin toss.
How the conversation went
Prior to this meeting, FanDuel apparently requested clarification about a group of prop bets related to Super Bowl LVIII, but never made a formal request for a decision although the group of prop bets included the coin toss wagers in question.
In the first year of legal online sports betting in Massachusetts, all new wagering markets were added after a formal request was made by operators. In this case, no formal request was submitted, so commissioners Eileen O’Brien and Nakisha Skinner worried that the commission would have to change its process in order to allow the bets so close to the game.
Commissioner Brad Hill, who made the motion in question, argued that bettors in the Bay State were already leaving for the neighboring New Hampshire sports betting market to cast bets that were not available in Massachusetts sportsbooks. Commissioner Jordan Maynard seconded the motion and said he’d support the three coin toss wagers.
“Where does it stop?” said O’Brien.
Her concern was that such a wager is not actually part of the sporting event and is actually a separate event with a separate set of circumstances that need to be analyzed. She even raised questions of how the coins are minted and calibrated and if they are truly not subject to cheating.
Skinner also noted that the coin toss wagers do not fit the composite definitions of what the commission has already authorized as prop bets in its existing regulations. Both commissioners emphasized the need to ensure integrity is intact when adding this or any new wagering event to the catalog, and given the information they had at this time, they could not ensure whether or not integrity could be upheld with coin toss bets.
Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein ultimately voted no, so the motion failed despite the heated debate.
They also debated about allowing bets on the color of the Gatorade poured on the Super Bowl winning coach and the length of the national anthem before the big game. The commission was near unanimous about not wanting either of these to be added to the catalog as well, although no formal motion to add them were made.
Betting on the Super Bowl coin toss
The supporting commissioners thought that the odds were pretty fair when considering the coin toss wagers, asserting that they’re near 50-50 odds for both heads or tails and the winner of the toss. The opposing commissioners argued there was no way to ensure the integrity of such a bet.
However you look at it, BetMGM recently reported that Super Bowl LVIII’s coin toss is a “top 10 most bet prop” for the online sports betting site, despite not being available for customers in Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, or Washington.