Massachusetts Sports-Betting Licenses In High Demand

September 2, 2022
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With up to 15 slots available for mobile betting licenses in Massachusetts, 42 companies have submitted notice that they intend to pursue licensure in the commonwealth.

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With up to 15 slots available for mobile betting licenses in Massachusetts, 42 companies have submitted notice that they intend to pursue licensure in the commonwealth.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) last month asked interested entities to submit a notice of intent to help the sports-betting landscape “come into focus” as the commission begins its rulemaking and licensing process following the passage of legislation permitting sports betting in early August.

Forty-two companies submitted notices of intent prior to Wednesday’s deadline, including most of the U.S. sports-betting industry’s familiar names. The MGC released the list on Thursday (September 1).

The notice of intent is not an application for a license, and companies that did not submit notice of intent are not precluded from applying for a sports wagering license once they actually become available.

Each of the state’s three land-based casino operators — MGM Resorts International, PENN Entertainment and Wynn Resorts — filed notice, as they are able to operate both a land-based sportsbook at their properties and up to two mobile skins, potentially creating up to three market-access opportunities in addition to the operators’ own betting platforms.

In addition, the state’s two off-track simulcast parlors submitted notices, as they can operate a retail sportsbook and one mobile betting skin.

Beyond the tethered properties, the law allows the commission to issue up to seven additional mobile betting licenses that are not tethered to an existing land-based property, creating significant demand for what is a limited supply.

Market leaders FanDuel and the Boston-based DraftKings filed their notice, in addition to a host of larger U.S. operators including Caesars Entertainment, Bally’s Corporation and Rush Street Interactive.

European-based operators were also plentiful on the list of interested parties, including bet365, 888, Betway, Betfred and Unibet, along with Australian-based PointsBet and BlueBet.

The list also included several tribal-based operators, including the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Hard Rock brand, as well as Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment and the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota.

Retail giant Fanatics also continued its interest in entering the sports-betting space by filing notice of its intent to seek a license in Massachusetts. Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin maintained during an appearance on “The Volume” podcast this week that the company plans to take its first bets by the end of the year.

The next step for the commission is to continue its rulemaking process, with the next hearing to discuss sports wagering scheduled for September 8.

The MGC has been non-committal to date on a projected timeline for launch but intends to hold several more hearings with stakeholders in the coming weeks, including one for prospective mobile operators and another to discuss responsible gaming and advertising.

The commission held its first stakeholder meeting with casino operators and off-track betting operators on August 18 with the key discussions focusing on advertising regulations and kiosk placement on property.

House Bill 5164 allows any qualified gaming entity to request a temporary license for immediate commencement of betting operations, with a $1m license fee for the temporary license. The temporary license is functional for one year or until the commission makes a final determination on the pending operator license.

Full licensure will include a $5m fee for a five-year license, with the $1m for the temporary license being credited back to operators. After five years, operators will have to pay a $5m renewal fee.

Applicants also must pay a $200,000 processing fee for investigation costs, as well as any additional cost if the $200,000 proves insufficient to complete the investigations.

Operators will pay a 15 percent tax on retail betting and a 20 percent tax on mobile betting on adjusted gross revenues, which includes a deduction for federal excise tax. The commission has also expressed a willingness to consider allowing deductions for promotional play as part of its rulemaking process.

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