Massachusetts regulators formalize opening date for state’s first legal sportsbooks

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Massachusetts’ first legal retail sportsbooks will open at 10 am local time Jan. 31, state regulators announced Friday.

MGM Springfield, Penn Entertainment’s Plainridge Park and Wynn’s Encore Boston Harbor in Everett are all expected to take bets that day. The three sportsbooks will open under the BetMGM, Barstool Sportsbook and WynnBet brands, respectively.

Each property had set aside space and began constructing sportsbooks before the state’s sports betting legalization bill was signed into law in August 2022.

The late January opening will allow Massachusetts sports bettors to place in-person bets on the upcoming Super Bowl, perennially the most wagered-upon individual sporting event in the US. The opening will come just after the NFL’s AFC and NFC championship games, the leagues two Super Bowl semifinal games, which are also among the most wagered-upon games each year.

Massachusetts’ 2022 sports betting law also permitted retail sportsbooks at the state’s two simulcast racing facilities. Raynham Park is set to partner with bet365 for online sports betting, but it has not publicly announced a retail partner or opening date. Suffolk Downs hasn’t announced an online or retail partner.

Online set for March

This leaves three legal sports betting options – all in-person – until Massachusetts’ mobile launch in March.

Massachusetts regulators have advanced 12 mobile sports betting licenses ahead of the projected March launch. Officials have not given a firm launch date, but the inaugural legal mobile bets are expected to be placed before the first games of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which is the most wagered-upon sporting tournament in the country each year.

FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars, as well as Boston-based DraftKings, are all set to take online bets on the first day with legal mobile betting. Combined, the four companies have more than 80% of the national sports betting handle.

Other national brands including WynnBet, PointsBet and Barstool are also positioned to take online bets on the go-live date. Bally Bet and Betway, two other operators that are each already live in at least a half-dozen other US jurisdictions, have also had licenses approved, but it does not appear they’ll start taking bets on the same day as the aforementioned operators.

Fanatics officials told regulators they expect to launch their mobile sportsbook in March, but were likely not going to do so on the opening day. Fanatics opened its first retail sportsbook Friday in Maryland and Massachusetts could be its inaugural legal mobile betting market.

Microbetting-focused start-up Betr is also set to go live in Massachusetts, potentially as early as March. The operator’s real-money platform is only live in Ohio currently.

European gaming giant bet365 could also potentially start taking mobile bets in Massachusetts in March. Bet365 was a late entrant in its first few licensed US markets but went live in Ohio Jan. 1, the state’s first day with legal sports betting.

Mobile betting is expected to make up the vast majority of the state’s betting handle. In Maryland, which started mobile betting in November 2022, online wagering already makes up more than 95% of all bets placed.

New England market structure

Once live, Massachusetts will have more mobile betting options than any other state in the region. Until then, Massachusetts residents will have to travel across state lines to place a legal online sports bet.

Connecticut has the most options of New England state currently, with DraftKings, FanDuel and Rush Street Interactive’s PlaySugarHouse.

In New Hampshire, DraftKings has a de facto monopoly. Rhode Island’s only live mobile book is Sportsbook RI.

Maine could have up to four legal betting options, but mobile wagering won’t begin until at least this summer. Vermont lawmakers are considering legalizing sportsbooks but even if legislation is passed, legal betting likely wouldn’t begin until the very end of 2023 at the earliest.

Western Massachusetts residents could also continue placing bets in New York, which legalized online wagering just over a year ago. There are nine legal betting options: Bally Bet, BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, Resorts World Bet and WynnBet.

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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