Just over six months after the Massachusetts General Court brokered a deal to legalize sports betting, the state’s gaming commission began its launch of mobile betting at 10 a.m. Friday, with six digital operators prepared to start taking bets.
This week, BetMGM and FanDuel have announced partnerships with local sports teams — MGM announced a deal with the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, and FanDuel announced a partnership Friday with the Boston Bruins (see below). Those deals are likely just the first of a wave that will roll through the state as operators try to find a way to reach potential customers within the stringent advertising and responsible gambling framework the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has laid out.
The state regulator can license up to 15 digital platforms — seven via standalone licenses, six tethered to existing casinos (each casino can partner with two platforms), and two tethered to horse racetracks. So far, the commission has issued 10 temporary licenses, though four licensees — Bally Bet, Betr, Betway, and Fanatics — won’t go live Friday.
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Stay with us today as we update our live blog with all of the latest developments.
Friday, March 10, 3:12 p.m.
With sports betting well underway and no major problems reported by operators or via Twitter, one Boston bettor put an exclamation point on the day, so we will, too:
— John Rocker (@JRocker84) March 10, 2023
Friday, March 10, 12:56 p.m.
While six operators went live Friday morning, four more were on the sidelines with plans to launch later this year or early next. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission issued temporary licenses to 10 operators, but Bally Bet, Betr, Betway, and Fanatics all announced ahead of launch that they would not take part just yet. Betr, a microbetting site, shared the news Wednesday, after initially aiming for the universal date. Now the company says it will go live in April.
Today is an exciting day – Massachusetts has officially launched online sports betting! It is an incredible honor and privilege to be 1 of only 10 operators to receive a license in the Commonwealth. We at @betr are excited to go-live in April. 1/4
— Joey Levy (@joeyslevy) March 10, 2023
There’s no definitive timeline for the other three. Fanatics is currently beta testing its new sportsbook in Tennessee with a small group of consumers. That beta test could run a month or more, and if Fanatics treats it like a true beta test, it will then take consumer comments and suggestions and work them into the platform, all of which means a Fanatics Sportsbook launch anywhere is still a few months out, at best.
Bally Bet has shared little about its Massachusetts launch plans, and Betway, which was recently purchased by Super Group, is shooting for a 2024 launch. The Super Group purchase will slow down not only the approval process in Massachusetts, but both companies will likely need some time to embrace and sort out the new culture before putting a new product into the marketplace.
Friday, March 10, 12:41 p.m.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission gave a shout-out to the GameSense program, which offers live chat, a budgeting tool, insight into how different kinds of gambling actually work, and plenty of tips on how to gamble smarter. The program, which has a Massachusetts-specific website, has a budgeting tool that allows gamblers to monitor how much they’re spending and how long they’re playing, as well as the capability to set up alerts to let them know if they’re approaching any of their maximums.
Commissioner Brad Hill, seen here showing his support for GameSense and their 4-2-1 strategy, and the entirety of the MGC are proud to work with GameSense this #PGAM. GameSense is the MGC’s statewide responsible gaming program.
— MA Gaming Commission (@MassGamingComm) March 10, 2023
Friday, March 10, 11:56 a.m.
With today’s launch, Massachusetts became the 24th state to offer digital sports betting. To date, New York is the only one among the four biggest states by population in the U.S. to have legal wagering, and at least one Californian was feeling some envy this morning:
Massachusetts is maybe the 2nd most “progressive” state in the country behind California and sports betting is now legal there while California continues to drag its feet smh
— Colin (@Colin0515) March 10, 2023
Friday’s launch means that the only New England states without legal digital wagering are Vermont and Maine. Lawmakers in the latter state legalized betting last year, but it probably won’t be available until the second half of 2024.
One motivation behind legalizing wagering is to stamp out the black market. To date, more than 35 states offer some sort of legal framework around sports betting, though at least eight of those states offer in-person wagering only. Stakeholders have been clear that there has been a decline in illegal wagering in legal states, but those still living in or visiting states without legal betting are turning elsewhere:
My entire feed right now is for Fan Duel, Draft Kings and Barstool Sportsbook promos in Massachusetts. I however will stay loyal to my illegal book while in South Carolina
— Rick Shaw (@zac_couchley) March 10, 2023
Friday, March 10, 11:28 a.m.
Finally! A first bet on a Boston team. 🙂 BetMGM shared that its first mobile wager in the state was $50 on the Red Sox at +6000 to win the World Series.
Friday, March 10, 11:18 a.m.
Barstool Sportsbook has launched, meaning that all six digital platforms that could have gone live today in Massachusetts have.
The Barstool Sportsbook is now live in the great state of Massachusetts
— Barstool Sportsbook (@BSSportsbook) March 10, 2023
It wouldn’t be Barstool if we didn’t have a slight glitch. It’s all fixed. All systems go. #BarstoolSportsbook is now 100% live in Mass. We’re streaming all day. Place any 5 dollar wager and get 2 bonus bets on Celts and B’s to win title. pic.twitter.com/mCbXFDThVU
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) March 10, 2023
Friday, March 10, 11:11 a.m.
A little more than an hour into legal wagering in the state, DraftKings has added another special: New customers who place a $5 bet will instantly get $200 in bonus bets, which are good for seven days. Customers can sign up now through April 9, but the promotion is not available to customers who took advantage of the DraftKings pre-launch offer. Bonus bets will be paid in eight $25 increments.
Friday, March 10, 10:57 a.m.
Just about an hour into legal digital wagering in Massachusetts, Caesars Sportsbook shared that the first bet there was $15 on Alabama A&M’s moneyline (+130) against Texas Southern in the SWAC tournament. The first parlay was a $1,000 two-leg college basketball wager, Purdue ML + Alabama ML (-149 total).
Curiously, neither the first online bet at WynnBET or Caesars involved a Massachusetts team. While none of the men’s basketball teams in the state look like they’ll play in the postseason, the Bruins are dominating the Atlantic Division and play the Red Wings Saturday, while the Celtics are 2½ games out of first place in the Eastern Conference and play the Hawks Saturday night.
Friday, March 10, 10:48 a.m.
Apparently, Barstool Sportsbook didn’t go live immediately, and Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy was left hanging. His plan was to stream on Barstool.tv as he watched games and bet on all weekend. As of now, Barstool Sportsbook has not tweeted or sent out a release saying it’s live.
Hey @BSSportsbook when am I gonna be able to bet in Mass? I heard 10am. Still can’t bet. Waiting on you. Let’s go
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) March 10, 2023
Friday, March 10, 10:47 a.m.
WynnBET announced on Twitter shortly after 10 a.m. that it was up and running, and the first bet was $10 on Purdue (-7, -110) vs. Rutgers in Friday’s Big Ten tournament action. The company also got a lot of love from spokesmen Shaquille O’Neal and Julian Edelman.
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) March 10, 2023
Massachusetts, online sports betting is finally here.
Bet with the best, bet with @WynnBET
— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) March 10, 2023
Friday, March 10, 10:30 a.m.
Both Caesars and BetMGM used some space in their Friday morning press releases to address responsible gambling. BetMGM reiterated that it is using the GameSense program and participates in the American Gaming Association’s “Have a Game Plan” program.
Caesars highlighted its new RG program. Additionally, the company is adopting an enhanced 21+ gaming policy that “will limit Caesars Rewards accounts to individuals over 21 and, where allowed by law, limit all domestic gaming, pari-mutuel, sports, and iGaming options to those over 21.”
The Massachusetts GameSense website can be accessed here.
Friday, March 10, 10:25 a.m.
Caesars Sportsbook has announced that it is live in Massachusetts, and also took the opportunity to share a little news about its retail location, which will be at Raynham Park. Caesars has plans to open a temporary book in the spring, while the permanent sportsbook will be 30,000 square feet, making it one of the largest standalone sportsbooks in the U.S.
The Caesars Sportsbook App is here! It's the only app where you can earn @CaesarsRewards perks with every wager – including dining, hotel stays, and event tickets at over 50 Caesars Rewards destinations 🙌
— Caesars Sportsbook (@CaesarsSports) March 10, 2023
Friday, March 10, 10:12 a.m.
BetMGM sent out a press release announcing that it is live in Massachusetts.
“The debut of sports betting in Massachusetts has delivered an incredible amount of excitement and activity to our retail Sportsbook at MGM Springfield,” BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said in the release. “We’re proud to expand our best-in-class wagering experience statewide during one of sports’ biggest months of action.”
Friday, March 10, 10:10 a.m.
FanDuel and DraftKings were among the first to launch at the top of the hour, and shared these tweets:
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) March 10, 2023
BOSTON YOU'RE OUR HOME #BetLocal
DraftKings Sportsbook is officially LIVE in our home state, Massachusetts!
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) March 10, 2023
Friday, March 10, 10:08 a.m.
Here’s the scene in front of DraftKings’ Back Bay office as sports betting went live at 10 a.m.:
There’s a special Duck Boat for the @DraftKings celebration. Marking mobile sports betting going LIVE today in Massachusetts. #mobilebetting begins just days before #marchmadness pic.twitter.com/CewO16dUik
— Janet Wu (@JanetWuNews) March 10, 2023
Friday, March 10, 10 a.m.
The Boston Bruins on Friday became the second major professional team in Massachusetts to announce a major sports betting partnership when they and FanDuel unveiled their deal in a joint press release. Wednesday, BetMGM and the Boston Red Sox announced the first pro team-sportsbook partnership in the state, including sharing an image of the BetMGM logo on Fenway Park’s famed Green Monster.
FanDuel’s deal with the Bruins was announced in concert with the launch of six digital sports betting platforms in the Bay State.
“Massachusetts is home to some of the most passionate fan bases across the country, and we’re excited to enhance their viewing experience with the launch of the FanDuel sportsbook app,” FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger said via press release. “Bruins fans are the true embodiment of that passion and we look forward to supporting the team this season and beyond.”
FanDuel Sportsbook is available online in 19 states, including Ohio, the first to launch legal wagering in 2023.
As part of the deal, FanDuel will get use of Bruins logos and marks while also putting FanDuel signage along the dasher boards of TD Garden and the NHL’s new “digitally enhanced dasher boards.” Digital and social media are also part of the deal, as the companies will share content, including “homepage takeovers and other exclusive content on Bruins and FanDuel social channels,” according to the press release.
“We’re thrilled to welcome FanDuel to the Bruins and TD Garden family,” Glen Thornborough, Bruins chief revenue officer, said in the release. “With the legalization of sports betting … it’s an exciting time to be partnering with an industry leader in FanDuel.”