Sports betting in Massachusetts in 2023

Sports betting in Massachusetts is gaining momentum, generating $654.4 million in wagers in November. However, operators continue to struggle with Bay State regulations.

Last updated: December 27, 2023, 6:00 a.m. ET
Reading time: 4 minutes

Sports betting in Massachusetts got off to a slow start compared to neighboring states. The state did not legalize sports betting until 2022. Retail sports betting finally launched on January 31, 2023 at the state’s three casinos, Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno placed the first legal sports bet in Massachusetts. Sarno picked the Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl. While the mayor lost his bet, the sports betting providers were clear winners.

“Today is a monumental step for BetMGM and sets the stage for us to deliver a world-class sports betting experience across Massachusetts,” he said BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said.

Online sports betting began March 10, just before NCAA Basketball’s March Madness. Approximately 97% of sports betting in Massachusetts is currently done online.

Boston-based DraftKings is the market leader in Massachusetts, accounting for just over half of the state’s online betting. FanDuel now generates about 28% of online sports betting in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has eight online operators. Last month it launched ESPN Bet, replacing Barstool Sportsbook, PENN Entertainment’s former partner. The move already looks promising. Massachusetts-based ESPN Bet generated about three times as many bets in November as its predecessor did in October. And while many states will lose WynnBet, the company will continue to operate in Massachusetts for the foreseeable future.

See also: Sports betting in Kentucky in 2023

Massachusetts regulators are cracking down

Things haven’t been smooth sailing for sports betting providers. Every state has different rules and regulations. Each state requires new coding. Each state has regulatory agencies that may interpret the state’s laws differently. And while sports betting in Massachusetts is still in its infancy, its regulator, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), is developing a reputation for being a bit heavy-handed.

In July, the MGC fined its three casinos for accepting bets on college basketball games in the state. This was due to coding errors that incorrectly identified schools as out-of-state.

The MGC recently surveyed online operators about their ability to identify underage bettors. And this month, DraftKings was accused of accepting bets funded by out-of-state credit card deposits. The commission said that from the launch of mobile betting on March 10 through July 13, 218 DraftKings customers wagered a total of $83,663.92 on 242 bets using credit cards.

See also: 10 predictions, bold or otherwise, about sports betting in 2024

However, the MGC is not always tough on its operators. Last month, DraftKings allowed winning combinations placed at incorrect odds to be voided, saving the company more than $500,000 in potential payouts. The MGC issued a similar decision in September, allowing Barstool Sportsbook to void 257 bets totaling $47,759.94 on outcomes that had already occurred.

Meanwhile, operators in Massachusetts face regulatory risks from more than just the MGC. Northeastern University’s Public Health Advocacy Institute and its affiliated Center for Public Health Litigation are seeking legal action against DraftKings in response to a deceptive advertisement. The promotion promised a $1,000 bonus to new bettors in Massachusetts, but the company did not realize that bettors had to deposit $5,000 and wager $25,000 with bets of -300 or more within 90 days to qualify to qualify.

However, Massachusetts has less than a year of legalized sports betting under its belt. Regulators and operators will eventually find a comfortable balance. After all, Massachusetts collected more than $81.8 million in taxes and fees from sports betting in just 10 months. This should provide sufficient motivation for the elaboration.

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