Massachusetts Gaming Regulators Have Several Irons On Fire

Written By Derek Helling on October 12, 2022
license application massachusetts gambling hearings expansion

After the Massachusetts legislature took the better part of four years to finally legalize sports betting, it’s understandable that residents might be impatient to finally place some above-board bets on their favorite sporting events. At the same time, the world of Massachusetts gambling doesn’t stop spinning just because the state finally made the move to introduce legal sportsbooks.

If anything, that matter just adds to the list of things that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has to attend to. A look at what else the Commission has on its plate right now forms an argument for why eager sports bettors should cut the Commission members some slack.

Sports betting is just one facet of Massachusetts gambling

There’s no reason to downplay the significance of the legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts. It’s the state’s first foray into legal online gambling, for one thing. It will also represent new responsibilities for the MGC for years to come.

Right now, though, the Commission is looking at just getting the ball rolling. It’s also doing that amid devoting its attention and time to other matters of similar importance. Gambling in the Massachusetts also incorporates physical casinos and horse racing.

Colin A. Young encapsulated some of the matters before the MGC within those scopes for State House News Service. In short, they include:

  • Encore Boston Harbor‘s request to expand its operations, possibly adding more gambling options/volume
  • An application for a license that could bring thoroughbred horse racing back to the state
  • Encore’s request to end additional oversight due to Steve Wynn‘s alleged sexual harassment of employees

The Commission can’t put these issues on a back burner to focus on rolling out sports betting. That means the rest of 2022, running into the early part of 2023, could be quite busy for the MGC.

Chair to commission members: keep your calendars clear

According to Young, Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein laid it on the line for members of the Commission in a recent meeting. Judd-Stein stated:

“There’s a lot of work that will need to be done. Some is dictated by firm deadlines, not deadlines that … any of us have any say over. There will be times, as the chair, that I may convene a meeting where we have a quorum. There may be times, if it’s essential for [Executive Director] Karen Wells and the team to get their work done. And I’m putting everyone on notice on that. I really hope I can be the chair of those meetings, but I might have to ask a different commissioner to chair those meetings if I cannot be there. That’s how it’s gonna work, if it’s going to advance the work of this team.”

As an example of what Judd-Stein was talking about when it comes to statutory deadlines, Young explains that state law requires the MGC to make a decision on the thoroughbred horse racing license application by Nov. 15. Before it can do so, though, it has to hold a public hearing and gather all the relevant information.

The other two matters concerning Encore Boston Harbor will need attention before 2022 ends as well. To further complicate the situation for the Commission, there are some language issues in the sports betting law that the MGC is currently struggling with. Currently, that has the MGC at somewhat of a standstill on the sportsbook issue.

Commission members weren’t just twiddling their thumbs before the legislature added regulating legal sportsbooks to their duties. That expansion of Massachusetts gambling just gives them more to do with those thumbs.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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