Projected Massachusetts online sportsbooks include market leaders, upstarts

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The Massachusetts online sports betting license applicants’ roster includes most major US market leaders and companies looking to shake up the market.

Massachusetts bettors are expected to have as many as 12 legal statewide mobile wagering options once betting begins in 2022, according to a release from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) Monday. Though regulators haven’t yet announced a firm timeline, sportsbooks- and state bettors – are hoping for a launch date by March, preferably ahead of the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, perenially the most-wagered upon sporting event in the US.

All applicants for the state’s online and retail sportsbooks are still subject to final MGC approval.

The MGC confirmed that BetMGM, WynnBet and Barstool had applied for a license in the state. The sportsbooks are partnered with the state’s three casinos: MGM Springfield, Wynn’s Encore Boston Harbor and Penn Entertainment’s Plainridge Park, respectively.

Massachusetts’ 2021 sports betting law permitted each casino two mobile sports betting license options apiece. All three operating companies announced previously they would use one of those licenses on their respective flagship sportsbook.

Wynn will partner with Caesars for its second license while Penn will work with the pending Fanatics sportsbook, which has yet to go live in any state. MGM will not have a second partner when mobile wagering begins, according to the MGC.

As expected, DraftKings and FanDuel were among the companies that applied for one of the seven licenses permitted under state law not directly affiliated with a brick-and-mortar gaming facility. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars have more than 80% of the US sports betting market share and are expected to be similarly major players in Massachusetts.

Bally Bet, PointsBet, Betway and Betr, the micro-betting focused platform co-founded by Jake Paul, were the other operators that applied for an unattached, mobile-only license.

Bally Bet, PointsBet and Betway have steadily expanded as national brands but have struggled to capture the same market share of many of their rivals. Betr, which expects to launch in its first state sometime next year, is hoping its more specifically-focused betting platform will help it attract a different class of bettors than many of the nation’s larger, existing operators.

Massachusetts’ two simulcast racing facilities, Raynham Park and Suffolk Downs, are also permitted to partner with online sportsbooks. Raynham Park will work with bet365 while Suffolk Downs has not announced a partner, according to the MGC.

One of the biggest names in global gaming, bet365 has approached the US market much more cautiously than many of its competitors. The sportsbook, lauded by industry figures for its platform and offerings, is currently only available in New Jersey and Colorado with a launch pending in Virginia.

Because of its slower progression, bet365 has not launched at the same time as many of its US competitors, most of which are better known to American bettors. Massachusetts, as well as pending Jan. 1, 2023 launch in Ohio, could give bet365 a chance to compete on an equal timing footing and allow it to capture far more market share than it has in existing states.

With 12 mobile sportsbooks set to go live early next year, Massachusetts will have more legal mobile betting options than all other New England states combined. Massachusetts law would have permitted up to 15 options, but MGM passed on a second partner, Suffolk Downs has not yet announced an operator and only six companies applied for the seven unaffiliated licenses.

More than 30 companies expressed interest in mobile sports betting licenses but only about a third of them appear set to enter the state. Rush Street Interactive, parent company of BetRivers as well as PlaySugarHouse and operator of sportsbooks in neighboring Connecticut and New York, was among the most notable companies not to apply.

Monday’s MGC announcement also reaffirmed that the state’s three casinos will look to open retail sportsbooks. All three properties have already begun – or nearly completed – their respective in-person sportsbooks on their casino floors and are preparing to start taking bets as soon as they earn approval from regulators.

Regulators are targeting a January, 2023 launch for the state’s first legal sports bets, which will begin at the casinos. The two racing facilities can also open retail sportsbooks, but neither will be ready to start taking bets then, according to the MGC.

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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