Massachusetts sportsbooks take first step toward launch

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A dozen sports betting stakeholders have already expressed interest in the Massachusetts market with even more expected to apply ahead of one of the most anticipated new legal wagering states.

DraftKings, WynnBet and PointsBet are among the leading US sports betting operators that have already formally expressed interest in a Massachusetts sports betting license, according to a document released by state regulators.

A complete list is expected later this week, though it remains to be seen which companies will apply and if those who don’t submit a request will still have potential market access.

The notice of intent to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is not a binding decision but it shines a spotlight on how the market will shape out. Along with the aforementioned market leaders are a host of upcoming companies hoping to earn one of the more coveted sports betting licenses in the nation.

That includes Betr, the micro-betting startup backed by celebrity influencer and amateur boxer Jake Paul. Massachusetts is the second state Betr has applied for market access following Ohio, which is expected to award its first licenses later this year.

BetFanatics is another startup looking to launch its first sportsbook. The gaming arm of the eponymous sporting goods retailer, BetFanatics has also applied to run a retail sportsbook in Maryland as well as both online and retail books in Ohio. The company, which has still not announced a formal launch for its product, is also expected to apply for licensure in other existing markets.

888, a leading European gaming company that operates under the Sports Illustrated name for its US sportsbook, has also filed a notice of intent. So too has PlayUp, which is live in Colorado and New Jersey, as well as Bally Bet, which now takes bets in six states.

Tech provider GAN has also filed a notice, potential to get its foot in the door as a partner for a customer-facing sportsbook brand. Sportradar, one of the nation’s two leading sports betting data providers, is also on the most recent list.

FanDuel, which estimates to account for more than 50% of US sports betting gross gaming revenue, is also expected to apply in Massachusetts. Other market leaders including Caesars and BetMGM are also likely applicants.

Massachusetts’ sports betting bill passed earlier this year will allow up to 15 online sportsbooks. BetMGM, WynnBet and Penn Entertainment’s Barstool Sportsbooks are effectively guaranteed licenses due to their affiliations with existing brick-and-mortar Massachusetts gaming facilities.

The three brick-and-mortar operators, MGM Springfield, Wynn’s Encore Boston Harbor and Penn’s Plainridge Park, will also be able to open a second sportsbook skin or partner with separate commercial operators. The state’s two pari-mutuel simulcast facilities, Raynham Park and Suffolk Downs, can partner with one third-party online sports betting operator apiece.

That leaves seven online sports betting licenses up for grabs. Market leaders such as DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars are among the favorites, but it’s far too early to tell which operators will earn licensure.

Massachusetts has one of the nation’s highest education levels and per-capita incomes, both factors that correlate positively with sports betting participation. The state is also home to some of the nation’s most iconic professional sports teams, furthering the market’s potential for operators – especially if the home teams have bad seasons.

The state’s first online sportsbooks are expected to go live within the next six months with retail books at the aforementioned casinos potentially opening beforehand. Once live, Massachusetts is set to have more legal online sports betting options than all other New England states combined.

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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