Massachusetts Retail Sports Betting Starting on January 31

  • Three local casinos have already been approved as retail sports betting outlets
  • WynnBet, BetMGM, and Caesars have been approved as betting odds providers
  • Each casino will have a “soft launch” with commissioners present January 30
  • Massachusetts wants to launch its online market before March Madness begins
Massachusetts Welcomes You sign
Massachusetts retail sports wagering will become a reality on January 31, the state’s gaming commission announced Thursday. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Part one of the grand launch

In another victory for the Massachusetts gaming scene, retail sports betting will be unveiled on January 31, nearly two weeks ahead of Super Bowl LVII.

able to accept bets for the first time at the end of next month

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) announced Thursday that the state’s three licensed sports betting casinos—Plainridge Park Casino, Encore Boston Harbor, and MGM Springfield—will be able to accept bets for the first time at the end of next month.

The launch of online sports betting still does not have a firm date. Regulators are targeting a day in March to capitalize on the popularity of March Madness betting, but that is still nothing more than hope.

Massachusetts retail sports betting

The MGC has been busier than ever lately. Over the past few weeks, it has granted Category 1 licenses to the three aforementioned casinos and has also reviewed several sports betting odds providers. So far, WynnBet, BetMGM, and Caesars have been approved to supply local casinos with fixed-odds markets.

Testing of software at betting stations and tellers’ desks will begin on January 16. If the technology “passes muster, it will be paired with the hardware, then the retail setup will have to be verified.”

each legal sportsbook will have a soft launch on January 30.

The commission will then have a certificate of operations vote on January 27 in what will be the final hurdle for operators to clear. Assuming there are no issues, each legal sportsbook will have a soft launch on January 30. Staff and VIP guests will be able to visit local establishments to place their first bets before the full market goes into effect the day after.

MGC officials will attend each soft launch on their own and then make visits to all three casinos on the day of the true grand opening.

Commissioner Jordan Maynard will be at Plainridge Park Casino’s soft launch, Commissioner Brad Hill will go to MGM Springfield, and Commissioner Eileen O’Brien will visit Encore Boston Harbor. Commissioner Nakisha Skinner was supposed to be at Encore Boston Harbor but could not attend due to a scheduling conflict.

Online bettors patiently waiting

While the arrival of online sports betting in Massachusetts is still unknown, operators can take solace in the commission meeting its pre-Super Bowl target for retail wagering. The three online sportsbooks that have already been approved do not include powerhouses FanDuel and DraftKings or others such as PointsBet, Barstool, and BetFanatics.

Both FanDuel and DraftKings are instead waiting to hear about their applications for Category 3 standalone licenses, which will allow them to operate freely without being tethered to a local casino (unlike WynnBet, BetMGM, and Caesars). Betway, BallyBet, Betr, and PointsBet are also seeking Category 3 standalone licenses.

While Massachusetts’ arrival on the gaming scene is imminent, fellow northeastern state Vermont is looking to adopt legislation to later join the growing list of states with legal sports betting. This comes in the wake of the overwhelming success from nearby states New York and New Jersey.

The MGC is still reviewing license applications in various categories and does not have an estimate of when it will launch the online market. However, it has been very organized up to this point and is in a nice spot to meet the pre-March Madness target.