The Massachusetts Gaming Commission Tuesday morning voted unanimously to accept a late Category 1 retail application from MGM-Springfield, and will allow it to be considered on a timeline to launch sports betting in “late January.” MGM-Springfield legal counsel Augustine Kim appeared at the virtual meeting requesting acceptance of the application, which he said was delayed due to “miscommunication” within the organization. The company did file its Category 3 digital application on Nov. 21, the deadline to be among the first launch group.
Kim asked for the commission’s “indulgence” and explained that the issue arose around “who was doing what, and as soon as we realized what was missing, we worked feverishly to get together what was missing and filed about 48 hours later,” on Nov. 23. MGM-Springfield did submit its $200,000 application fee Nov. 21.
The approval means that the casino company will be on track, from a regulatory standpoint, to open its brick-and-mortar sportsbook at the same time as competitors Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park Casino. There is no firm go-live date for Massachusetts sportsbooks, though the MGC in October pointed to late-January, ahead of the Super Bowl, for retail launch and early-March, ahead of March Madness, for digital launch.
Applications already being reviewed
The MGC was under no obligation to grant an extension and accept the application, but it appeared that because it was for a retail license and not a competitive situation — Executive Director Karen Wells referred to the Category 1 licenses as “presumptive” — the commission requested an explanation, got feedback from its legal team, and agreed to accept the application.
“We did anticipate this,” Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said ahead of the vote. “We were all extending the idea of empathy when we knew something could go awry. That’s why this provision was put into the regulation.”
The MGC received 12 digital applications by the Nov. 21 deadline. Of those, five would be tethered to existing casinos, each of which is entitled to two platforms, while six would be stand-alone platforms and one would be tethered to a racetrack.
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Besides the first skins for each of the casinos, Bally’s, Betr, Betway, DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet applied for stand-alone licenses, Caesars Sportsbook applied for Encore Boston Harbor’s second skin, Fanatics Sportsbook applied for Plainridge Park’s second skin, and bet365 applied for the skin associated with Raynham Park, though the track has not yet applied for its Category 2 license and likely won’t go live on the same schedule as the 11 other applicants.
Loretta Lillios, director of the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau, said those applications had been uploaded into the MGC system and that her team was currently in the “deficiency” process, during which it will identify if there is any missing information on an application. The IEB will move forward with vetting and reviewing applications to allow Barstool Sportsbook (Plainridge Park Casino), BetMGM (MGM-Springfield), and WynnBET (Encore Boston Harbor) to open in January.
Encore receives kiosk shipment
Preparations are underway at all three locations, and earlier in the meeting, it was announced that Encore Boston Harbor had received a shipment of 50 wagering kiosks. The expectation is that the property will have 124, and it has asked for permission to put some of those in its garage area to make it easier for patrons to drop by and place a quick wager.
Applications will be made available for public view with redactions by each operator, and allowing each entity to put in its own redactions was the most time-efficient way to make the applications available, according to staff. The MGC also announced on Tuesday that it would begin accepting public comment and set up public hearings around the applications beginning Dec. 5.