Massachusetts Casinos To Gaming Commission: We’re Ready For Sports Betting When You Are

Written By Derek Helling on August 19, 2022
gaming commission sports betting massachusetts casinos

It took the better part of four years to legalize sports betting at Massachusetts casinos. Now, those same facilities hope it won’t take that long to allow them to start taking those bets from casino guests.

On Thursday, representatives from gambling properties around the state met with the state’s gaming commission to discuss the matter of when they can open their sportsbooks, among other things. The message from racetracks and casinos in Massachusetts was that they’re waiting on the regulators to catch up.

Massachusetts casinos express anticipation

According to Colin A. Young of WWLP, a Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting on Thursday involved dialogue with leaders from five facilities in the state. Those were:

  • Encore Boston Harbor
  • MGM Springfield
  • Plainridge Park Casino
  • Raynham Park
  • Suffolk Downs

Young said the purpose of the meeting was for the commission to assess the level of interest and get an idea of how prepared potential licensees are once the commission starts awarding licenses. The response to that inquiry was nearly unanimous.

MGM Springfield’s representative said the property could open its physical sportsbook within 90 days of getting a license. Encore Boston Harbor senior vice president Jacqui Krum echoed that sentiment, adding that it would start hiring immediately after getting an idea of a timeline for when it could start taking bets.

Plainridge Park general manager North Grounsell elaborated on that point. Grounsell stated that the commission specifying a targeted launch date would feed “a lot of other decisions operationally that need to be made.”

However, the gaming commission wasn’t ready to commit to any kind of timeline or target launch date. Commission chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein did say that at its next meeting on Sept. 8, she expects a presentation that will offer some insight on how long it could take to finish ironing out sports betting regulations.

While all that banter focused on in-person wagering, other recent activity shows the commission hasn’t forgotten about the online portion of Massachusetts’ latest gambling expansion.

Commission puts out call for interested parties

On Wednesday, the gaming commission issued a form that is of relevance for companies that would like to take bets on sporting events online in Massachusetts. The new law allows for up to seven such platforms to operate independently, plus as many as eight more in conjunction with a casino or racetrack in the state.

The form essentially alerts the commission of a company’s intent to apply for a sports betting license when the application forms become available. To be clear, completion and submission of this form are not a part of such applications nor a prerequisite.

The form essentially puts those companies on the commission’s radar. That will give the commission a better idea of how many such applications they might have to review in their decision-making, which could help them estimate a launch timeline.

In the end, this week’s action in Massachusetts amounted to more information gathering, which is a familiar theme for people who watched the state’s legislature take four years to legalize sports betting. Hopefully, the state’s gaming commission will be more proactive.

Photo by Charles Krupa / Associated Press
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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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