Massachusetts Sports Betting Board Advances FanDuel

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Massachusetts sports betting

FanDuel advanced to a final round of Massachusetts sports betting hopefuls, after clearing initial vetting from state regulators Monday.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously that FanDuel Sportsbook has met or exceeded all criteria to be eligible for an online MA sports betting license.

Under the Massachusetts sports betting law enacted in August, three casinos and two racetracks may each run online sportsbooks. The MGC may award up to seven additional license for operators “untethered” to retail properties, such as FanDuel. BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, WynnBet and Barstool received approval already, via partnerships with casinos.

FanDuel joins Bally Bet, which had its hearing last week, as one of the first untethered operators eligible for an untethered license. The MGC will vote on those Jan. 18 when six more operators will hope to join them.

Their hearings are scheduled as follows:

Massachusetts sports betting hearing with little fanfare

FanDuel’s suitability review went relatively smoothly, with commissioners flying through the questions much quicker than they did for operators like Barstool last month.

“I have to say so many of mine [questions] were answered by your presentation today,” said Cathy Judd Stein, Chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

FanDuel and the MGC entered a private “executive session” for more than an hour to discuss the company’s ongoing legal issues, presumably its lawsuit with Fox and or with one of its former founders. Those off-camera sessions have been commonplace during MGC suitability hearings, allowing operators to shield some sensitive info from public eye.

Making fantasy tax a reality

Commissioner Eileen O’Brien brought up the state’s daily fantasy sports law from 2018, which requires DFS operators to retroactively pay taxes on their activity in the Commonwealth.

According to the Commission, those were due in August and FanDuel has not yet paid.

“We fully anticipate paying all taxes since the beginning of that statute”, said Cory Fox, FanDuel vice president of product & new market compliance, who added that FanDuel has been in contact with the state to sort out registration.

FanDuel impact on Massachusetts sports betting

FanDuel CFO David Jennings said the company expects to generate more than $200 million in tax revenue for the Commonwealth over its first five years and will make a $1 million donation somewhere in the state should it get licensed. Massachusetts sports betting operators are set to pay a 20% tax on online revenue.

Total marketing spend is set for roughly $50 million over the next five years, Jennings added. FanDuel executives also said the company is exploring an office in the Commonwealth, where it already employs 18 remote workers.

Responsible gaming concerns ease

O’Brien, who led most of the responsible gaming discussion during Barstool’s hearing, had little to say about FanDuel’s history with responsible gaming.

She asked about the company’s relationship with Fox Sports and WFAN host Craig Carton, but seemed satisfied when Christian Genetski, President of FanDuel, described their partnership with him as one centered on responsible gaming, rather than promoting product.

He went on, articulating FanDuels’s marketing philosophy:

“We want our content and advertising to be geared exclusively towards adults, content focus to be transparent and straightforward to consumers, advertise in places where likely consumers will be and want to find us, and not advertise in place where [those] people don’t want to find us,” Genetski said.

A final vote on the online Massachusetts sports betting launch is slated for after final license approvals are made, though it is expected to start in early March. Under MGC framework, retail sports betting is scheduled for late January, before Super Bowl betting.