Given how complimentary members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) were on Monday and the limited amount of followup they asked for, it appears that FanDuel sailed through a review meeting and will likely be awarded a Category 3 stand-alone digital sports betting license next week when recipients are announced.
The five-and-a-half hour meeting was among the most low-key of the license reviews to date, and the commission repeatedly complimented FanDuel executives on the quality and comprehensiveness of their application. Commissioner Brad Hill also called it “impressive” that FanDuel has an in-house tech stack, saying that the MGC has explored the pitfalls of third-party vendors in other reviews.
FanDuel is the first operator to come for review that has its technology in-house, though Fanatics, which is still under review, is building its own platform, and DraftKings now handles its own technology after acquiring SB Tech in 2019.
FanDuel is the second of five stand-alone mobile wagering applicants. The MGC announced in December that it would consider all applications in the first half of January and announce by Jan. 20 which operators it will award licenses to. Bally’s Interactive was first up last Friday, and Betr (Tuesday), DraftKings (Wednesday), Digital Gaming (Friday), and PointsBet (next Monday) are in the queue.
The MGC has already given initial approval for tethered digital platforms Barstool Sportsbook (Plainridge Park), BetMGM (MGM Springfield) Caesars Sportsbook (Encore Boston Harbor), and WynnBET (Encore Boston Harbor) to go live later this year. Fanatics, which has yet to launch its platform anywhere in the U.S., is still under review, and could get an answer later this week.
The commission is aiming to launch digital wagering in early March, ahead of March Madness, and will launch the state’s three retail locations on Jan. 31.
Commission: Application ‘met expectations’
After hearing an overview and getting a demonstration of FanDuel’s platform on Monday, commissioners asked questions and Chair Cathy Judd-Stein “took the temperature” of her colleagues on each section. To this end, commissioners unanimously felt that each section of FanDuel’s application “met expectations.”
The MGC, which has been clear about how much it values integrity and responsible gaming, had kind words for FanDuel on both, with Judd-Stein telling FanDuel executives that the MGC might steal a page from the company’s playbook with relation to in-house responsible gaming training. (FanDuel’s is called “PlayWell.”)
There were some questions along the way, including a handful about outstanding violations or pending legal action, which were handled in executive session. Presumably, when the MGC does issue approval, it will require FanDuel to keep it apprised of developments on the violations and legal issues. The commission has set similar parameters for other companies during the process.
Thank you, Massachusetts!
FanDuel is excited for the potential to bring America’s #1 Sportsbook to the Commonwealth 👏 pic.twitter.com/OfyBr2N2fe
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) August 1, 2022
The most pressing matter that arose is that FanDuel, which offers Daily Fantasy Sports in Massachusetts, is delinquent on its taxes and registration. According to the commission, both were due in August. FanDuel’s Cory Fox said his company had been in touch with the commission as it sorted out details around the registration and taxes, and promised to rectify the situation as soon as Tuesday.
Commissioners quizzed FanDuel executives about creating jobs and making a financial commitment to the Bay State. There are currently 18 Massachusetts residents who work remotely for FanDuel, but the company does not have an office there.
FanDuel President Christian Genetski left open the possibility of FanDuel opening a Massachusetts office, saying that tech companies often “follow the talent.” He then shared that the company will bring a version of its biggest event, “FanFest,” to Massachusetts should FanDuel get licensed, and predicted that it would create jobs and bring tourists to the state.
Tackling Bernie Kosar violation
Compared to the kinds of questions some other companies have faced concerning relationships with colleges, integrity, or rules violations, FanDuel’s hearing was a walk in the park (or the Common, if you’re in Boston).
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) January 8, 2023
Executives easily handled questions surrounding the recent news that Bernie Kosar was fired from the Cleveland Browns’ pregame show because he violated NFL rules, which explicitly ban anyone associated with a team from wagering. Kosar made the first bet at Tipico’s sportsbook at the MLS Columbus Crew retail location. The bet was purported to be the first in Ohio, and at the time Kosar made it clear that any winnings would go to charity.
Commissioner Brad Hill asked how FanDuel would react in this situation, and Genetski and other execs explained that operators work with the professional leagues and each other to maintain a list of people who are banned from betting. Genetski called the fact that Kosar and current NFL player Calvin Ridley were flagged a “success” that shows that the system works.