Bet365 set to withdraw Massachusetts online sports betting license application

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Bet365 will no longer pursue a Massachusetts online sportsbook license ahead of the state’s projected March sports betting launch.

One of the biggest names in global gaming, bet365 now plans to withdraw its Massachusetts sports betting license application, Massachusetts Gaming Commission spokesperson Tom Mills told iGaming Next Tuesday. State regulators needed to technically approve bet365’s withdrawal, but Mills said that was expected to come as early as Tuesday.

Bet365 was set to partner with Raynham Park, a simulcast racing facility outside Boston, for online sports betting access. The European gaming giant withdrew its application due to some of the MGC’s regulations, according to a report from the Brockton, Massachusetts Enterprise.

Slow bet365 growth

The pending Massachusetts withdrawal continues bet365’s cautious approach to the US market.

Other major European gaming operators including Flutter, which acquired FanDuel, and Entain, which has a 50/50 joint venture in BetMGM with MGM Resorts International, have aggressively pursued the US market since the Supreme Court struck down the federal wagering ban in May 2018. These operators, as well as Caesars, which acquired UK bookmaker William Hill, and DraftKings, which acquired tech platform SBTech and became publicly traded in the US, have each spent billions on marketing, free bets and other player acquisition costs.

Bet365, which is believed to have similar financial resources to its competitors, has been a relative afterthought in both the sportsbook spending free and the US public consciousness.

The bet365 online sportsbook is only live in New Jersey, Colorado and Ohio with a Virginia launch set for sometime this year. With the exception of Ohio, which started taking bets earlier this month, bet365 has launched significantly after all of its major competitors.

Unlike most other US operators, bet365 has had very little marketing or promotional efforts beyond ads at a few MLB stadiums. Though it is a household name in many European markets, it remains a relative unknown in the US.

This methodical approach has allowed it to save the hundreds of millions in promotional costs incurred by the US sports betting leaders. The company’s financial resources, combined with its lauded in-house tech platform and user interface, still has industry observers believing bet365 could upend the US sports betting status quo – if it wants to do so.

Notably, bet365 is projected to be one of the leading regulated sportsbooks in Ontario, where it operated for years in the province’s gaming “grey market” before regulators granted commercial gaming licenses in 2022. Ontario regulators don’t publicly disclose individual operators’ revenue reports, but bet365 has been one of the most downloaded apps of any category in the province and it is believed to be one of if not the highest-grossing operator by handle and gross gaming revenue.

Possible replacements

Bet365’s departure leaves up to four mobile sports betting licenses available in Massachusetts.

Raynham Park Monday announced it would partner with Caesars for an on-property retail sportsbook. Under Massachusetts’ 2022 sports betting law, the facility could work with a separate online operator, though it had not yet announced a replacement partner.

The law will also allow the state’s other licensed simulcast racing facility, Suffolk Downs, to partner with one retail and one online sports betting operator. It has not publicly revealed a partner for either slot.

One of the other remaining licenses is available to a sportsbook that partners with MGM Springfield. MGM used one of the two licenses allocated under the law for BetMGM and seems unlikely to work with an outside operator in the foreseeable future.

The other potential licensee would not have to affiliate with any Massachusetts gaming property. It remains to be seen when – or if – a company that didn’t partake in the initial licensing process would seek to enter the state.

Massachusetts online sportsbooks

Massachusetts regulators have already approved sportsbooks for all 11 of the remaining potential licenses permitted under state law.

Along with BetMGM, WynnBet and Barstool are set to enter the state, earning licenses through their respective brick-and-mortar casino partners. Wynn (operator of Encore Boston Harbor) partnered with Caesars for its second online license while Penn Entertainment (Plainride Park) agreed to a deal with the Fanatics sportsbook.

FanDuel and Boston-based DraftKings, the US market leaders by handle, are also set to enter the state without having to affiliate with any of the aforementioned brick-and-mortar properties. PointsBet, Betway, Bally Bet and Betr are also set to launch via untethered licenses.

Most of the aforementioned books are set to start taking bets in March. Massachusetts regulators have not announced a firm go-live date but are working to grant final approvals for a launch sometime before the 2023 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

About the author

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Ryan Butler

Ryan is a veteran sports betting and iGaming regulation and breaking news journalist based in the US. A two-time Associated Press Sports Editors award winner, he has reported on sports and politics since 2012. He has covered the gaming industry since 2018. Ryan graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Journalism and a minor in Sport Management.

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