The struggle to make legal online Massachusetts sports betting a reality is over. Now, the tussle over which online sportsbook will control the market begins. As of 10 a.m. local time on Friday, March 10, six contenders have entered the arena.
While sports bettors in the state are celebrating, regulators and state officials are watching carefully. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office in particular has expressed an interest in the competition for bettors’ attention.
Massachusetts sports betting completes its rollout
After in-person wagering began on Jan. 31 across the Bay State, the first online sportsbooks are fully operational in Massachusetts. As of Friday morning, bettors in the state have six options.
- Penn Interactive
Other licensees plan to launch in the near future. Betr, for example, is targeting going live sometime in April. Bally Bet and BetFanatics are planning to launch in May. Betway could round out the menu of 10 choices sometime this year.
The launches are exciting for these licensees as they have an opportunity to reach new customers and capture more revenue. They need to tread carefully, however, with how they promote themselves. The state’s top law enforcement agency has made it clear that it is watching.
Massachusetts AG weighs in on advertising
Massachusetts gambling, as with most other facets of commerce in the state, falls under the purview of the attorney general to police. On Thursday, Massachusetts’ First Assistant Attorney General Pat Moore spoke with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Moore presented a letter from the attorney general’s office and highlighted five points that the office will be monitoring sportsbooks for compliance on.
- Adherence to consumer protection standards
- Age restrictions
- In-app content
- Monitoring for signs of problem gambling
- Spokesperson usage
A Massachusetts Gaming Commission staff member during the meeting reported that FanDuel has already pulled some ads off the market for non-compliance with the state’s standards. The ads had used impermissible language like “free bets.”
With the sportsbooks just going live and the upcoming March Madness basketball tournaments soon to take place, there will be plenty of opportunity for sportsbooks to demonstrate their compliance. Bettors in Massachusetts should also know those events are special in the state.
March Madness brings rare betting chances
In Massachusetts, betting on events that involve in-state college teams is illegal, with one exception. That exception is any tournament that involves at least four teams. Thus, the annual D1 men’s and women’s basketball national championships qualify for that exception.
That means licensed sportsbooks in the state can legally offer betting markets on in-state teams like Boston College and Harvard, but only within the parameters of those tournaments. Regular season contests involving in-state teams in all sports are impermissible.
With the starts of those tournaments just days away, it’s a great time to check out the legal apps now available in the Bay State.