The Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Tuesday made WynnBET the first digital sports betting platform to be licensed in the state when it unanimously approved the company’s application after a nearly seven-hour meeting.
The approval is for a Category 3 license, meaning that WynnBET will be tethered to Encore Boston Harbor, as both are divisions of Wynn Resorts. It’s unclear exactly when launch of digital platforms in Massachusetts will be, though the MGC is aiming for “early March,” ahead of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The goal for retail wagering is in late January.
Encore Boston Harbor so far is the only retail sportsbook location to get commission approval. That came last week after the commission delayed decisions on licensing MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park (PENN Entertainment).
WynnBET is currently live in nine states, including New Jersey and New York. It will add a 10th state in early January when it goes live in Ohio through a partnership with JACK Entertainment. The commission did put some conditions on the issuance of the license and it will require WynnBET to provide it additional information around vendor diversity statistics and goals for diversity spending before the company can go live.
The MGC was also scheduled to review an application from Caesars Sportsbook, which has a deal to use Encore’s second Massachusetts skin. But since the WynnBET vote came so late in the day, commissioners decided to push the Caesars application to Wednesday, when it is also scheduled to review retail and digital applications from MGM Springfield.
Last month, MassLive reported that Encore Boston Harbor and Caesars had a “preliminary agreement” for Encore’s second skin, and that was later confirmed when applications were filed Nov. 21. All three existing casinos have up to two skins to use.
WynnBET has been conditionally approved to apply for a temporary online sports betting license in Massachusetts. See you soon, Bay State!
— WynnBET (@WynnBET) December 13, 2022
Plainridge/Barstool review set for next week
Plainridge Park, owned by PENN Entertainment, has revealed that its Barstool Sportsbook will use its first skin and Fanatics will use its second skin. The commission has set aside two days to review Plainridge Park’s digital applications and to revisit its retail application.
After vigorous discussion surrounding Barstool Sportsbook last week, the MGC declined to act immediately on the Plainridge Park retail application. Barstool Sports, the company partly owned by PENN Entertainment that spearheads marketing of the Barstool Sportsbook, and its founder, Dave Portnoy, were the focus of a recent New York Times story that cast Portnoy in a negative light as a “degenerate” gambler, among other concerns. Commissioners are unsure how to reconcile that reputation with the state’s integrity standards.
The push to legalize online sports betting in Massachusetts happened very quietly — so quietly that the vetting of license applicants is getting scant attention. That’s a mistake, writes @Joan_Vennochi. #mapoli https://t.co/UIKs6XA1O7
— Boston Globe Opinion (@GlobeOpinion) December 12, 2022
MGM Springfield will partner with BetMGM for its first skin, but it has not announced a second skin partner. The MGC is set to review BetMGM’s application Wednesday and will also revisit the MGM Springfield application, on which the MGC last week deferred a vote.
Following this round of application reviews, the MGC will reconvene in January to review applications from Bally Bet, Betr, Betway, DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet , all of which have applied for stand-alone mobile licenses. Bet365 had applied for a license with plans to partner with Raynham Park for a digital platform, but the racetracks are on a different timeline than their casino and stand-alone mobile counterparts.