Encore Boston Harbor Gets First Massachusetts Sports Betting License

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on December 9, 2022
MGC unanimously approves Encore Boston Harbor sports betting license

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission(MGC) granted the first sports betting license to the Wynn Resorts-owned Encore Boston Harbor casino resort. A Massachusetts sports betting license approval means the casino can launch a retail sportsbook early in 2023.

The MGC met three times this week to consider a license. On Thursday, the commission unanimously approved Encore Boston Harbor as the state’s first fully licensed casino operator.

It is the only casino Class 1 applicant that had its application approved on the first day of consideration.

Plainridge Park Casino (Penn Interactive/Barstool) and MGM Springfield (BetMGM) applications are also being considered.

The commission set a goal to launch three retail sportsbooks in late January or before the Super Bowl in February. Online betting could launch by “early March” should everything go smoothly.

“More information on a universal launch day for retail sports betting will be released in the coming weeks,” the MGC said.

Connection between casinos and betting partners an MGC concern

Commissioners will meet to revisit licenses next week. They will also work on online sports betting license applications for all three casinos.


Encore Boston Harbor’s relationship with WynnBET almost led to a postponed vote on the casino’s application.

During the last meeting, the commission raised one of its concerns with WynnBET’s information about the casino’s potential license suspensions. They were also concerned about the casino’s compliance history.

When commissioner Nakisha Skinner raised that question, WynnBET casino officials said they would be happy to provide the information. But they would rather do it in the non-public executive session.

Although Skinner noted some of WynnBET’s activities were “very concerning,” she said it wasn’t WynnBET’s license application that was in question.

Plainridge Park

On Dec. 6, the commission delayed the decision on licensing Plainridge Park due to questions related to Barstool Sportsbook‘s relationship with its owner PENN Entertainment.

Barstool will operate Plainridge Park’s retail location and its digital platform.

But, the commission is concerned about the gambling behavior of Barstool Sports founder and a native of Massachusetts, Dave Portnoy. As a controversial online personality, Portnoy could have a lot of influence on younger audiences, commissioners expressed.

MGM Springfield

The commission also postponed a vote Wednesday on MGM Springfield’s application. Commissioners delayed a vote after they expressed frustration with how the document was knotted with another submission from BetMGM.

The document the commissioners were reviewing answered many questions with references to the separate BetMGM application.

The commission met with MGM Springfield officials, who then outlined what gambling would look like at their property.

Much of the information that would be necessary to consider the MGM Springfield application is “essentially missing,” Skinner said. “I’m happy to continue on with the discussion, I think it’s necessary.”

Next steps for Massachusetts sports betting

So far, 15 casino operators have applied for Massachusetts sports betting licenses. The three casinos in the state can receive a retail betting license, and there will be two online sportsbooks.

The gaming commission will evaluate Massachusetts online sports betting license applications next week. Once commissioners meet, they will also further explore connections between PPC and MGM Springfield and their online operators.

In January, the commission plans to hold similar meetings on the six applications for untethered online betting licenses. However, commissioners could gain a license for each applicant as they didn’t receive applications for the maximum of seven untethered online licenses.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for PlayUSA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario’s online gambling industry for PlayCanada.com. Vojvodic holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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