The Massachusetts Gaming Commission began its review of six stand-alone mobile platform applications Friday, though it will not announce who it will approve until all reviews have been completed. First up was Bally’s Interactive, which would do business in the state as Bally Bet.
Bally’s executives on Friday gave a broad presentation and shared a look at how the app works before the commission went through the application section-by-section to see if it had a consensus on whether or not the company had “met expectations.” Commissioners had some questions that appear to have been answered in executive session, and Bally’s will be required to provide some additional information, but it received the thumbs up on each section.
Under the new Massachusetts law, the MGC can license up to seven stand-alone digital platforms. Bally Bet, Betr, Betway, DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet have applied for licenses, and the review process will run through Jan. 17.
The MGC has plans to launch digital sports betting in early March, ahead of the NCAA basketball tournament.
Four digital platforms, all tethered to existing casinos, have been initially approved for launch: Barstool Sportsbook (Plainridge Park), BetMGM (MGM Springfield), Caesars Sportsbook (Encore Boston Harbor), and WynnBET (Encore Boston Harbor).
The commission on Thursday began its review of Fanatics (Plainridge Park), which will debut its digital platform in the first quarter of 2023, but the MGC delayed a decision to next week. Commissioners voiced concerns around responsible gaming and Fanatics’ business model after the company said it plans to use its current commerce division to promote sports betting. The commission also had questions surrounding a 2019 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit that Fanatics settled.
Under the law, each casino is entitled to two skins. MGM Springfield has not yet announced what company it would partner with for its second skin.
Previous violations, self exclusion reviewed
With regard to Bally’s, the commission questioned previous rules violations by the company in Arizona and Indiana. Bally’s executives said the company had rectified the violation related to self-exclusion lists in Arizona, and they pointed to a miscommunication with regional sports network Sinclair Media for the violation in Indiana, which was self-reported.
In both cases, executives referred to the issues as “growing pains” in new wagering markets and indicated that the company has learned and changed protocols. The commission appeared satisfied with the answers.
Another area that commissioners questioned is the plan by Bally’s to advertise on public transit. Commissioner Eileen O’Brien raised concerns about school-aged children being exposed to the ads while riding to school and asked if advertising could be timed or if it was static.
Bally’s executive Adi Dhandhania said he was unsure, but that “if the commission feels we should stay away from it, then we will.” He pointed out that buying advertising on public transit is similar to buying billboard space, but O’Brien responded that those billboards are digital and can be timed to avoid exposure to minors.
In addition, Chair Cathy Judd-Stein told Bally’s executives that she does not believe that the Bally’s billboards at the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border have responsible gaming language on them, and she asked that this be rectified.
RSM provides window into size of market
As part of its presentation Thursday, accounting network RSM provided charts that project both the size of the market in Massachusetts and potential market share for operators.
In terms of the size of the market, Deustche Bank projects $306.6 million in in gross gaming revenue in 2023 that will grow to $408.8 million by 2027. Truist projects $83.4 million in 2023 and up to $639 million in 2027. RSM’s Theresa Merlino said the slide came from third-party entities, and the the discrepancy in 2023 numbers could likely be attributed to Duestche Bank working on the idea of a March 2023 launch and Truist assuming a fall 2023 launch.
According to the market share chart provided by RSM, FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM currently have top market share across live, legal U.S. jurisdictions with each capturing at least 18% in any month between June 2021-June 2022. Rush Street Interactive was No. 4. The chart has double entries for Barstool/PENN, which Merlino said was likely an error.
The chart was provided for context, said Merlino, and does include some operators that have not applied for license in Massachusetts.