Bettors and bookies alike are eagerly awaiting the announcement of a launch date for legal sports betting in Massachusetts. On Thursday, they may even get it.
The agenda for the October 6 meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission includes a host of sports betting-related items, such as the presentation of draft application forms for operators.
Also on the agenda is a discussion of "Simultaneous vs. Staggered" launch dates, as well as consideration of potential launch dates for retail and online sports betting in the Bay State.
“Our meeting scheduled for Thursday is certainly going to shine more light on the timeframe and a whole bunch of other matters that are essential to putting together the final components and milestones on that timeline,” said Cathy Judd-Stein, chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, during a VIXIO GamblingCompliance webinar this week. “So I really ask that everybody stay tuned.”
The meeting will likely attract plenty of attention from the legal sports betting industry, which is champing at the bit to get wagering underway in Massachusetts. The state is home to a sizable population, historic sports franchises such as the Boston Celtics, and rabid fans that could be keen to start betting legally.
A temporary problem... and solution?
However, getting retail and online sportsbooks open in the Bay State has been a heavy lift. It took lawmakers until almost literally the last second to pass a sports-betting bill earlier this year, and, more recently, it has emerged that part of that legislation is giving regulators a headache.
The portion at issue deals with temporary licensing, as the state’s sports-betting law caps the number of permanent online licenses at 15 but has no cap on temporary licenses, which would cost operators $1 million to obtain and allow them to take bets for a year.
Under that legislative structure, an operator could conceivably receive a temporary permit, take bets for a year, and then shut down if they don't receive a permanent license. That could prove problematic for operators and their customers.
Regulators have been weighing what to do about the temporary licensing conundrum, but Judd-Stein suggested a solution could be on the horizon.
The gaming commission chair said during the webinar this week that they have been talking with members of the state legislature and that there is the possibility of a legislative “fix” from policymakers.
“Also, if there isn't a legislative fix, we do feel that we can continue to operate on a parallel track and we are working hard to make sure that the two tracks work really hand-in-hand,” Judd-Stein said. “But we are continuing to sort out the best solutions.”