Massachusetts Regulators Approve Temporary Sports Betting Licenses Ahead of March Mobile Launch

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission also heard Thursday that PointsBet has decided to abandon the state's wagering market entirely.

Feb 23, 2023 • 15:22 ET • 2 min read
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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has given the green light to several online sports betting sites ahead of the fast-approaching start of mobile wagering in the Bay State next month.

Nine operators were approved Thursday for temporary licenses for mobile sports betting in Massachusetts, although not all of them will launch on March 10, the tentative start date for online wagering.

The nine bookmakers that paid their $1-million fee and were issued their one-year permits, teeing them up to launch shortly in Massachusetts are:

There are, however, a few things worth noting. Bally Bet and Fanatics have indicated to the MGC that they are not planning to launch in the state until May. Furthermore, the MGC has actually approved 11 operators for temporary licenses, but Betway expects to launch in about a year, and PointsBet has decided to abandon the Massachusetts market entirely.

“We have been in communication with them,” MGC Executive Director Karen Wells said during Thursday’s meeting. “And last night I did receive notice that they are withdrawing from Massachusetts.” 

Recurring growing pains

A spokesperson for PointsBet said it decided to withdraw its application for a mobile sports betting license to "emphasize our continued focus" on the 14 states in which it is already live, plus the Canadian province of Ontario, "and how we can best optimize those markets which provide an immense TAM for us to go after."

"We would like to thank the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for their consideration of our application, conducting extensive hearings, and deeming PointsBet suitable for licensure ahead of the launch of legalized sports wagering in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," the spokesperson added.

While the loss of PointsBet will thin the Massachusetts market somewhat, all of the major names are still planning on taking action in the state, in addition to a few upstarts.

Legal sports betting began in the Bay State on January 31 at three casinos, but the MGC set March 10 as the tentative launch date for mobile event wagering. The commission continues to work on the various regulations that will govern the state’s wagering market. It is also trying to decide what to do with the casinos after all three reported accidentally offering some forbidden betting markets. 

One such incident was brought before the commissioners on Thursday, as the MGC heard people were recently able to bet on a Boston College women’s basketball game at Encore Boston Harbor, which isn't allowed unless it's part of a tournament. That is the same issue the casino already reported to the MGC

The latest "non-compliance" incident was purportedly due to a "glitch" in the system of the company's technology provider. Encore is no longer taking any bets on women's basketball while they try to resolve the issue permanently. No action was taken on the matter on Thursday by the MGC.

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