The Bay State will not have legal online MA sports betting in time for the 2023 Super Bowl.
Yet there are finally date ranges for the launch of legal Massachusetts sports betting.
On Friday, the MA Gaming Commission passed a motion that would enable retail sports betting to launch in late January and online sports betting to launch in early March.
The motion came 11.5 hours into a two-day meeting that began at 10 a.m. Thursday and recessed until noon Friday. It passed by a 4-0-1 vote, with vocal opponent Commissioner Nakisha Skinner abstaining.
Caveats in MA sports betting motion
The motion contained a caveat that those date ranges could change. It would depend on public comment, staff input and the number of applications for online sports betting licenses.
There is still a question surrounding Category 2 (racetrack) launch. Those plans are still to be determined.
If hit, the date ranges would allow people in Massachusetts to participate in retail sports betting at casinos before the Super Bowl on Feb. 12, 2023. They would also be able to participate in online sports betting before the NCAA Tournament (March Madness.)
Why Skinner opposed timeline
Skinner has opposed the “aggressive” timeline put forth by executive director Karen Wells and her staff to accommodate the Super Bowl and March Madness.
“I’m not OK with that,” she said.
Skinner was in favor of a timeline that wasn’t “taxing to staff and centered on sporting events” but did not provide any alternatives. Commissioner Eileen O’Brien agreed, saying an early March launch of online sports betting is “overly aggressive and not realistic.”
O’Brien did vote ‘yes’ after the stipulations were put in surrounding date ranges potentially being pushed back.
Potential ‘crowd control’ issues on retail launch?
During the meeting, Wells said that she received word from a casino that there could be potential “crowd control” issues surrounding a possible Feb. 10 launch of retail, which was rejected. Wells also at one point was unclear on what sport (NFL) played its conference title games on Jan. 29.
Delaying the launch of sports betting in the state and missing key dates would cost the Commonwealth millions in tax revenue.
It would also leave MA bettors the same options they currently have. Those are unregulated offshore operators, local bookies and other states who have legal sports betting.