Massachusetts Regulators Frustrated With Bally's Delayed Launch

March 18, 2024
Massachusetts regulators are growing concerned over the delayed launch timetable of Bally Bet, the only licensed sportsbook operator in the state that has yet to go live.

Massachusetts regulators are growing concerned over the delayed launch timetable of Bally Bet, the only licensed sportsbook operator in the state that has yet to go live.

Bally’s was one of nine operators to receive licensure ahead of the state’s mobile sports-betting launch in March 2023. Of those nine, eight companies launched their mobile sportsbooks, but two have decided to cease operations after a year, ahead of a deadline to pay a $1m fee to renew a temporary license.

Bally Bet has been unique in that the company has not launched in Massachusetts, but it has paid the $1m fee to renew its license.

Still, regulators expressed their frustrations on Thursday (March 14) that the operator has yet to go live more than a year after the state’s universal launch date.

Bruce Band, the director of sports wagering for the commission, said that Bally’s Interactive executive Brett Calapp told him last week that the company was aiming toward a launch in the second quarter of 2024, but Band also added that Bally's still has a lengthy to-do list to be permitted to begin operations.

“I sent him a letter basically spelling out all the things that they needed to do and complete prior to opening and to obtain an operation certificate here in Massachusetts, which was a pretty extensive list,” Band said.

Band said the commission staff has reached out to Bally’s “probably three or four times” since December to set up meetings to work through the outstanding issues, but all of those requests have been unanswered.

“We’ve extended numerous meetings to meet with their staff to work with them, hopefully we hear something soon, but they have to go through all of the GLI approvals, house rules, and extensive licensing issues,” he said.

The five-member Massachusetts commission was unanimous in calling for more transparency from Bally’s regarding its plans.

“I think I’d like to be a little bit more strict and say ‘no, you are having a meeting with us’ and if that means before the commission [instead of staff], so be it,” said commissioner Brad Hill. “I think we’re at a point where need to move forward here.”

“It has now been quite some time since the temporary license was granted and I think we as a body owe it to Massachusetts to understand exactly what it is they have got planned for this commonwealth, and when,” added commissioner Nakisha Skinner.

Chair Cathy Judd-Stein expressed further frustration about Bally’s lack of communication, and asked about potential ulterior motives for obtaining licensure and not launching, including the company’s recent launch of online casino gaming in neighboring Rhode Island.

“We had another applicant who was very transparent with us in their application period where they said, we need to tell you, we’re off on our timing,” Judd-Stein said. “Bally’s didn’t exercise the same courtesy to us.”

“This is a peerless privilege to have a Massachusetts license, they have it on their documents that they have our licenses,” she added. “I’m kind of upset if we haven’t properly protected us to say, you don’t get to just say you have a license.”

“Are they not operating in Massachusetts because they want to benefit Rhode Island?” Judd-Stein asked.

Bally’s did not respond to a request for comment from Vixio GamblingCompliance on the issue.

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