Massachusetts sports betting will begin to clear some important hurdles this week as the state’s gaming council begins to hear evidence in support of applications for the “untethered” licenses which will be distributed to online-only providers. With seven licenses available and only six companies in the running for the initial distribution of said licenses, the sportsbooks in question need only demonstrate that they are capable of running a statewide sports betting platform reliably and legally; if all six can do so, then they will all be awarded the chance to offer online betting in the Bay State.
The hearing will begin this January 6, when the sportsbooks in question are invited to attend an initial briefing in which the council will run through a breakdown of the process. State Attorney Todd Grossman will then brief the representatives on the legal framework in which they are expected to operate, and Saturday is expected to be the first day of presentation for the sportsbooks, with Bally’s being the first to make their case. The same process will then be offered to FanDuel, BetR, DraftKings, Betway and Pointsbet in that order, with final decisions being made on the 19th and 20th of this month.
It is entirely possible that all applicants will be offered a license, but it has been made clear that the process will be easier for sportsbooks that have already offered a service successfully in other states, as they have the ability to demonstrate their capabilities more clearly. This means that BetR and Betway, who have offered only limited services in the USA so far, are at something of a disadvantage as compared to the other four names in the frame who have been operational in many of the thirty-plus states to offer sports betting so far.
Betway may have an easier time of it than its fellow “novice” sportsbook. While the UK-founded bookmaker can point to a successful operation that spans Europe and has opened in South Africa, Canada, and India among other locations, and is present in as many as six states already, BetR is new to the process of providing betting and didn’t exist six months ago. A lot of their presentation is going to rely on demonstrating how their platform will work as a concept, although their early forays as a sweeps sportsbook have been attractive to the youthful audience they have targeted.
As of this moment there is no hard start date set for online betting in Massachusetts, although it has been slated for an early March launch ahead of the Major League Baseball season. Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks located at casinos in the state are expected to go fully live on the 31st of the month after a soft launch on the 30th. This will allow for bettors in the state to place bets on the Super Bowl, which takes place in early February, although the local New England Patriots are expected to have been eliminated from contention before then.