State gaming regulators proposed introducing mobile sports betting in Massachusetts on March 10, just days before the start of the NCAA’s annual March Madness college basketball tournament.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved six companies that are not tied to a brick-and-mortar operation and another five that are tied to the state’s three casinos to offer mobile sports betting in Massachusetts. The new date provides these companies with a clear timeline of how many days they have left to prepare their mobile products for launch.
“The suggestion is that we do it that day because it gives us the weekend if there are any issues before March Madness starts and then there’s a Monday where we can have a commission meeting if needed if there is any problems before the big tournament begins,” Gaming Commission Executive Director Karen Wells said at a meeting Thursday morning. “And then the recommendation is that we start at 10 a.m. There are some events that people want to bet on themselves on March 10th.”
March Madness begins March 14th.
Wells said regulators are expected to consider a temporary license grant for the six mobile operators, which aren’t tied to casinos, on Feb. 23.
Sportsbook director Bruce Band said he was in the process of gathering all the necessary materials from the operations, including their official applications for a temporary license and the $1 million fee associated with it.
The companies planning to offer mobile sports betting in Massachusetts and initially given the green light by regulators are BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, Fanatics, Penn Sports Interactive (Barstool), WynnBET, Bally Bet, Betr, Betway, DraftKings, and FanDuel Sportsbook PointsBet.
Wells said the start date depends on the quality of internal control inputs, the rules companies must have to govern betting and their ability to respond to issues raised by Gaming Labs International, a gaming testing and certification company.
“If the applicants either did a fantastic job, are all willing to go, or are responsive, we can do this faster,” Wells said. “But if applicants are unable to respond or fail to respond to required changes to their internal control inputs, it may impact the schedule.”
Wells said the commission could launch some, but not all, mobile operators on March 10.
In-person sports betting at Encore Boston Harbor, Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield began in late January.