Massachusetts sports betting was all but guaranteed to heat up this fall. The temperature is definitely starting to rise.
This week, Wynn Resorts property Encore Boston Harbor reached a tentative agreement to give one of its two online sports betting contracts to Caesars Interactive Entertainment.
The announcement marks the first such agreement in the state as regulators and operators prepare for the launch of Massachusetts sports betting early next year.
This may be the match that sets the market ablaze. Just last week, Raynham Park Owner Chris Carney said his company would announce a sports betting partnership by next week.
Caesars bypasses Massachusetts sports betting license competition
Details about the partnership between the two companies are sparse. Local reports are that the deal is preliminary but will most likely go through.
The deal means two things. First, Encore likely gets a nice chunk of change for offering one of its two mobile “skins” to Caesars. Second, Caesars doesn’t have to go through a battle for one of the seven untethered licenses available to online sportsbooks. Instead, it gets automatic inroads through Wynn.
The partnership has been in the works for at least a month. In mid-October, Encore submitted a scoping survey to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). The required survey indicated that Encore was in talks with two companies about a mobile license: WSI (WynnBet) and Caesars.
In all likelihood, Caesers and WynnBet will get Encore’s two mobile skins.
Caesars, Wynn partnership a new twist in an old story
Caesars and Wynn’s relationship in Massachusetts goes back around a decade. Until now, that relationship has been an ugly one.
Caesars was vying for a casino license in 2013 along with Wynn. Caesars didn’t get the license. It turned around and sued the MGC and its chair. Caesars claimed the MGC showed favoritism toward Wynn Resorts.
Caesars said its $1 billion proposal was turned down because the MGC’s chair had “ties to a landowner who favored another applicant,” according to reports. The landowner, as it turns out, was a former business partner of the MGC chair.
What’s next for Massachusetts sports betting licenses?
Before the end of the year, the Massachusetts mobile sports betting landscape should be pretty clear. The total of 20 licenses available (five retail, eight casino-tethered and seven untethered) should be spoken for.
The Caesars deal is likely the first proverbial domino to fall. Over the next couple of weeks, expect others like BetRivers, DraftKings and FanDuel to announce online and/or retail deals in Massachusetts.