Massachusetts Bid to Launch Online Sports Betting Before Super Bowl?

Massachusetts will be launching sports betting but it won’t be until next year. The hope is that the launch will take place in time for the Super Bowl in February but not online.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission met on Thursday October 6 but did not vote on a timeline for the launch. One plan is that betting on sport can begin at land-based venues situated in casinos and racetracks. Later on the launch of mobile apps would take place.

It’s a battle to get the land-based and online launches both in place in time for the biggest American Football match of the year. Sportsbooks know there will be massive interest in betting on the Super Bowl.

It’s not surprising therefore that the timeline being suggested for the launch has been described as “aggressive.” This has led to some criticism and calls for the timeline chosen not to be rushed.

Commissioner Bradford Hill is in favour of the land-based launch taking place before the Super Bowl. However, when it comes to mobile sports betting, he’d be ok if it missed the Super Bowl deadline but was in place for the NCAA March Madness basketball tournaments.

It was two months ago that the bill legalising sports betting in Massachusetts was signed by Republican Governor Charlie Baker. It’s not just possible to pass a bill, get it signed by the Governor and then quickly launch sports betting in the state.

There are complex issues that need to be dealt with. This includes whether all the bookmakers should launch at the same time or on different days. When New York launched mobile sports betting earlier this year, not all the sportsbooks opened at the same time.

It all comes down to when each sportsbook receives its approval to operate in the state. It’s believed that there are over 20 temporary licences to be given out. The complications would come when they have to dismantle the temporary apps they have.

This could see bets having to be refunded if games wagered on haven’t yet taken place. The fear is that this could affect the integrity of the sports betting program.

Launches can be speeded up though as was seen in Kansas this year. They were keen to ensure their launch of sports betting took place in time for the start of the new NFL season.

To ensure this could happen, one-year provisional licences were allocated. The state speeded up the process by looking at the activities that applicants had carried out in other states.