Hold Your Bets: Massachusetts Gaming Commissioners Warn Sports Betting Takes Time

Massachusetts gambling industry regulators expect it to take months to launch legal sports betting.

The five members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, led by Chairman Cathy Judd-Stein, met this week, even before Governor Charlie Baker put his expected signature on the sports betting law, trying to temper expectations of a quick start to the new gambling industry. a long regulatory road ahead.

“We will not compromise the integrity of gaming and the quality of the product we regulate,” said Judd-Stein.

Commission officials, who have been working to prepare for the event that the legislature would legalize sports betting, said the writing and adoption of new regulations could take 2-3 months. The process to apply for and get a license to accept sports betting can take 3-6 months.

Judd-Stein stressed that the public should remain patient.

“Right now, while that bill is on the governor’s desk, there is no vehicle to place a legal sports bet in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” she said. “There are nefarious operators who may still be trying to win customers over in this time of transition.”

Referring to the advance made by the Gaming Commission staff, state senator Eric Lesser, the Longmeadow Democrat who was one of the leading negotiators on the sports betting law, said in an interview with WAMC that it will take some time before the infrastructure is in place for legalized bets.

“But we hope it can happen this fall,” Lesser said.

However, Commissioner Brad Hill said people should not hope that sports betting will be available in time for the fall football season.

“I’ve seen some quotes in the paper from the public and others that they hope to have this thing up and running in a very, very short time,” Hill said. “And I just want the public to be clear, at least in my opinion, I’m not speaking on behalf of the entire Commission, but from my point of view, this is going to take a little longer than people probably expect. And I agree.”

Five years after the US Supreme Court ruled that states could legalize sports betting, the Massachusetts legislature passed a law in the wee hours of the last day of formal legislative sessions for this year. All states bordering Massachusetts, with the exception of Vermont, have legal sports betting in use. Maine has given permission.

The bill calls on the Gaming Commission to license sportsbooks in state casinos and racetracks, and to license through competitive bidding to seven mobile gambling platforms. It requires a feasibility report by the end of the year on placing sports betting kiosks in restaurants and bars.

Since the operators of casinos and racetracks have already gone through an extensive vetting process by the Commission, it is expected that they would be licensed to take sports betting for the mobile-only companies.

MGM Springfield has already built a location in the casino for a sportsbook. Chris Kelly, president of MGM Springfield, said the company is “elated” that a sports betting bill has finally been passed by the legislature.

“This new industry allows Massachusetts to repatriate the income and jobs currently lost to neighboring states and the illegal gambling market,” Kelly said. “We look forward to providing local sports fans with a world-class immersive sports experience in our sports lounge, along with a VIP vantage point in the TAP Sports Bar.”

Judd-Stein said the casino and track operators will be invited to public roundtables to discuss their sports betting plans.

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