The MGC approved draft regulations on seven separate rules covering critical subjects such as sports wagering licensing fees, suitability determination standards, and voluntary self-exclusion protocols for customers susceptible to problem gambling. The commission will file the regulations with the Massachusetts Secretary of State by Jan. 20 to finalize the process.
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Wednesday’s meeting represented the latest step in the lengthy process needed to launch sports wagering in the Bay State. Since New Year’s Day, the MGC has reviewed standalone digital licensing applications from Bally’s, Betway, FanDuel, Betr, DraftKings, and PointsBet. Under Massachusetts state law, the MGC can issue up to seven standalone mobile licenses. As of Wednesday, only six companies have applied.
In addition, five other sportsbooks — Barstool Sportsbook (Plainridge Park), BetMGM (MGM Springfield), Caesars Sportsbook (Encore Boston Harbor), Fanatics (Plainridge Park), and WynnBET (Encore Boston Harbor) — submitted applications for tethered digital licenses. All five have received initial approval from the MGC. Last month, the commission announced that the state will launch retail sports betting by Jan. 31.
Of the seven rules approved at the meeting, six were passed unanimously. A rule on suitability determination standards passed by a 3-2 vote, with MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein and Commissioner Jordan Maynard voting against the measure.
Proposed sports wagering regulations passed at Wednesday’s meeting
- 205 CMR 212.00: Additional Information and Cooperation (from licensed sports betting operators)
- 205 CMR 214.00: Sports Wagering Application Fees
- 205 CMR 215.00: Applicant and Qualifier Suitability Determination, Standards, and Procedures
- 205 CMR 219.00: Temporary Licensing Procedures
- 205 CMR 220.00: License Conditions
- 205 CMR 221.00: Sports Wagering License Fees
- 205 CMR 233.00: Sports Wagering Voluntary Self-Exclusion
The only hiccup during the meeting came from FanDuel asking the MGC to amend language regarding the expiration of a temporary sports betting digital license after a period of five years. The request only applied to cases where the MGC fails to make a finding of “durable suitability” after the five-year period expires. Assessments on durable suitability are required in order to grant a sportsbook applicant full licensure.
In most cases, licensing investigations conducted by the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau will be completed long before the expiration. In extraordinary circumstances, however, there is a possibility that the temporary licenses will no longer be valid if a finding of durable suitability is not made in a timely fashion.
Judd-Stein expressed concern that a digital sports betting operator may be forced to cease operations if the bureau does not complete the investigation within the time period. The MGC agreed to issue a directive that will allow applicants to re-apply for a new temporary license if the investigation is not completed within the time frame.
— MA Gaming Commission (@MassGamingComm) January 17, 2023
When requesting a temporary sports betting license, operators are to pay the commission a licensing fee of $1 million. If an applicant is subsequently awarded a Sports Wagering Operator License by the MGC, the operator will be expected to pay an additional fee of $5 million within 30 days, with a credit for the original $1 million paid.
In a separate meeting Wednesday, the MGC reviewed supplemental information provided to the commission from digital wagering applicants in the period since last week’s meetings. While the MGC is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, it did not provide a timetable on when it plans to make a final determination on license awards.