Online MA Sports Betting Bill Sponsor Sets Scene For Launch

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MA sports betting

Massachusetts bettors have waited a long time to place legal online MA sports betting wagers in the Commonwealth. 

At 10 am EST on March 10, that changes. 

Seven online MA sports betting operators are slated to go live, pending final regulatory approvals, four days prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament

State policymakers announced a compromise on the stalled MA sports betting bill at 5:10 a.m. on Aug. 1, 2022.

“It’s something that the house had worked on for a long time,” Rep. Jerry Parisella told LSR. “We first passed it in 2020, then I became chairman and did another bill in 2021. So to see it finally go live (in-person on Jan. 31), I participated in the event at Encore (Boston Harbor) with a bunch of former athletes — and lowly Jerry Parisella hanging out with those guys — it was pretty cool to see it come to life. There’s a lot of buzz about it.” 

What comes with online MA sports betting

Massachusetts has a tax rate of 15% on in-person sportsbooks and 20% on online sportsbooks. Parisella explained the direct economic benefits. 

Tax, casino revenue

“I think it looks like we’ll get at least $70 million in licensing fees, which are renewable every five years (it’s $5 million per license),” Parisella said. “And as far as the annual tax revenue, I think it’s fair to say we’ll get $60 million to $70 million, and I think that’s probably conservative.” 

There are ancillary benefits too.

They include Massachusetts residents and visitors making more frequent visits to in-person betting options Encore Boston Harbor (WynnBet Sportsbook), Plainridge Park Casino (Barstool Sportsbook) and MGM Springfield (BetMGM Sportsbook).

“It’s creating better job opportunities,” Parisella said. 

MA sports betting means home wagers

Massachusetts bettors also now have the benefit of being able to legally wager from their homes as opposed to going to neighboring states like New Hampshire or Rhode Island, or using offshore operators or bookies.

“DraftKings reported about 30% of last year’s Super Bowl bets were bet by Massachusetts residents in New Hampshire,” said Parisella, who lives a half-hour from the border. 

Parisella also thinks it is possible residents of New Hampshire or Rhode Island come to the Commonwealth, given the more expanded menu of operators. Both states are single-book monopolies, with DraftKings in New Hampshire.

“I think we have a much better, bigger competitive advantage in product,” he said. “So not only are our residents going to stay here, but I think we’re going to bring those folks to Massachusetts.” 

Musical chairs in Massachusetts

There has been plenty of movement on the operator front.

Bet365 and PointsBet dropped out. Fanatics and Bally Bet will join the scene in May. And Betway will come into the Commonwealth during Q1 2024. Still, as Parisella put it, “All the heavy hitters are here, all of the big players.”  

“We’ll see how it goes on March 10,” he said. “But with March Madness right around the corner, that’s a great way to launch this.” 

Ads, ads and more ads

As the launch date nears, sports betting ads have ramped up. 

“There are a lot of ads now on TV and the radio, so people are fired up,” Parisella said. 

Still, Massachusetts has some of the strictest advertising regulations in the nation, with the commission focusing on prohibiting targeting of people under 21 years old

“Every ad is providing the 1-800 number for folks who may have issues,” Parisella said. “We’ve got folks at the casinos already who are working with folks to kind of educate them on problem gaming. And we’ll make sure online operators do that as well. Not having credit cards we think can help folks not stretch themselves too thin.

He continued:

“People sort of criticized us for the long delay in terms of getting this rolled out. But one of the advantages to that was getting to see how it worked in the other jurisdictions.” 

What’s next for MA sports betting?

Will there eventually be an in-person sportsbook inside or adjacent to Fenway Park, TD Garden anord Gillette Stadium

“There was a lot of talk about that,” Parisella said. “Our thought was, let’s let the folks that are currently operating retail casinos get at it first, roll it out, and make sure that we get everything rolling properly. It’s easier to sort of license them first because the gaming commission has a history with them, and then we’ll take a look at it and see how it goes.”