Massachusetts Gaming Commission Executive Director Karen Wells said Wednesday that her staff and sports betting operators are on pace to hit the targeted March 10 digital launch date, and will continue to move forward working through rules and issuing operating certificates. Seven operators are poised to go live, and the MGC said it must issue those licenses by March 9.
Three casino retail locations went live on Jan. 31, and operating certificates were issued a day ahead of launch.
The digital launch is set for 10 a.m. local time on March 10 — the Friday ahead of Selection Sunday. College basketball conference championships will be in full swing, with the NCAA’s March Madness tipping off with the First Four in Dayton on March 14 and 15.
Ten operators have initial approval and temporary licenses good for launch, but as of Wednesday, only seven had plans to go live March 10: Barstool Sportsbook (Plainridge Park), BetMGM (MGM Springfield), Betr (standalone), Caesars Sportsbook (Encore Boston Harbor), DraftKings (standalone), FanDuel (standalone), and WynnBET (Encore Boston Harbor).
Three other operators are approved, but Betway, which got its temporary license Tuesday, said it won’t launch until early 2024, while Bally Bet and Fanatics previously said they’d launch later in 2023.
Commission approves short ‘cooling-off period’
The MGC voted on a batch of rules that were held over from Tuesday after staff received additional comments about the proposed rules Tuesday morning. The proposed rule that got the most attention was the one related to a unique “cooling-off period” that the MGC would like to put in place.
The industry standard for responsible gaming is a self-exclusion list that consumers can use to ban themselves from betting for a minimum of one year. The MGC approved a more nimble policy that allows for a minimum 72-hour exclusion period that consumers can join on individual operator platforms as opposed to excluding themselves from all platforms through a state-run list.
The cooling-off period would not apply to betting on kiosks or in person, both of which can be done anonymously. The commission heard comments from operators about how to implement the cooling-off period.
The commission also approved five regulations around flagging and withholding winnings for those who owe child support, how consumers can file complaints, and other accounting and internal controls measures.