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Massachusetts regulators approved six more mobile sportsbooks Thursday, the most important step for the operators in the lengthy process toward the state’s projected March digital sports betting launch.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved a half-dozen mobile sportsbooks at a Thursday meeting after weeks of discussions. Earlier in the month, all six passed initial qualification mandates, including responsible gambling measures and financial suitability, among a host of other requirements, and were granted licenses Thursday.

The licenses will allow all six to launch mobile sports betting. Regulators have not given a final go-live date, but officials are working to go live sometime in early March before the 2023 Men’s NCAA Basketball tournament.

FanDuel as well as Boston-based DraftKings, the US market share leaders by sports betting handle, each earned a license. Both are expected to start accepting wagers on the first date with mobile betting.

PointsBet and Bally Bet, also established national brands, each earned licensure as well and could be poised for a March launch. Additionally, Betway received approval, though company officials said they may not be prepared to start accepting bets in the coming month.

The other book in this round of approvals was Betr. The micro-betting-focused startup led by Simplebet founder Joey Levy and celebrity personality Jake Paul has only launched real-money gaming in Ohio.

The relative lack of experience as well as the company’s marketing approach, centered around Paul, received extensive scrutiny from regulators. Commissioners nevertheless voted 4-1 to grant a license, though it was the only operator among those up for consideration Thursday that wasn’t approved unanimously.

Other Massachusetts books

These half-dozen books approved Thursday join six others already approved by regulators.

Massachusett’s 2022 sports betting law allowed BetMGM, WynnBet and Barstool Sportsbook to enter the market via their affiliations with the operator of the state’s three brick-and-mortar casinos, MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park, respectively. All three are set to open retail sportsbooks at their respective properties Jan. 31.

These in-person books are set to be the only legal betting options in Massachusetts ahead of the upcoming Super Bowl, perenially the most-wagered upon sporting event of the year in the US.

All three of the aforementioned casino properties were permitted a second mobile sports betting partner. Wynn partnered with Caesars and Barstool parent Penn Entertainment chose Fanatics.

Both Caesars and Fanatics have earned licenses last month and are set to launch in March. MGM did not select a second partner.

The sports betting law also allowed the state’s two simulcast race facilities to open on-property retail books. Raynham Park has partnered with bet365 while Suffolk Downs has not yet announced a partner.

Massachusetts market future

With 12 sportsbooks approved, Massachusetts law allows up to three more could still enter the state: one through a partnership with MGM, one through Suffolk Downs and one that doesn’t have to be affiliated with any Massachusetts entity.

There’s no indication about which operator – if any – would seek future market access, but BetRivers parent Rush Street Interactive, which is one of just three mobile sportsbook operators in neighboring Connecticut and the largest company by handle market share not already approved in Massachusetts, could be among the likeliest candidates.

With the current 12, Massachusetts is set to be the region’s largest sports betting market in both number of operators as well as handle. The state has roughly the same population as the other five New England states combined.

The large population, as well as high-profile professional sports teams and one of the nation’s highest per capita incomes, means Massachusetts is positioned to be one of America’s highest-grossing per capita markets.

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