Massachusetts Sports Betting Won’t Launch Until at Least January

  • The most aggressive launch timeline would see retail sportsbooks launching in January
  • Online sportsbooks would then look to go live before the end of February
  • No vote on a definitive timeline was held at the MGC’s Thursday meeting
  • Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed betting legislation into law in August
Fan wearing Boston Red Sox cap
It appears that Massachusetts sports betting will not launch until 2023, with the current loose timeline seeing retail sportsbooks opening in January. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

No sports betting until 2023

It appears that sportsbooks will not be able to launch in Massachusetts until January at the earliest. In a Thursday meeting to discuss the next steps, Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) executive director Karen Wells explained that the “most aggressive” timeline would see retail sportsbooks opening in January, followed by online sportsbooks launching before the end of February.

taking into account certain hurdles that still need negotiating

The timeline was not a recommendation from Wells, but rather her current thoughts on the matter, taking into account certain hurdles that still need negotiating. One of the potential obstacles that could extend the timeline would be if the MGC opens a public comment period for sports betting.

Still up in the air

There was no vote during the eight-hour meeting on Thursday on the definitive launch dates. An emergency MGC meeting is being held at noon on Friday to discuss the matter further. The hope is that at least retail sportsbooks will be up and running in time for the Super Bowl on February 12 and online sportsbooks live in time for March Madness. These are the two biggest events for US sportsbooks most years.

A delay in the launch of sportsbooks in Massachusetts would lead to a loss of significant potential revenue. Betting operators have already expressed their frustration at the lack of proper guidelines.

a total of 15 online sportsbook licenses up for grabs

So far more than 40 parties have expressed their interest in getting a license. There will be a total of 15 online sportsbook licenses up for grabs. Each of the state’s three casinos has access to two online sportsbook skins, while the two racetracks both have access to a single online skin. That leaves seven untethered online licenses available.

Demand for sports betting

There has been a lot of pressure for sportsbooks to roll out sooner rather than later in Massachusetts. It took a number of years for sports betting to be legalized, as the legislature frequently stalled and took its time.

The expectation is that sports betting will be very popular in Massachusetts, as it is home to many well-supported sports teams, including the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, and Boston Bruins.

It was only in early August that Governor Charlie Baker signed sports betting legislation into law. Bettors in the state are very eager for sportsbooks to launch, but the MGC wants to ensure that there is no rush to launch as it could jeopardize gaming integrity and consumer protection.