Sports betting licenses awarded in Massachusetts, with conditions

MA sports betting licenses last week setting the stage for an official launch in late January for retail wagering and March for online/mobile wagering.

Barstool Sportsbook

During a public meeting last week, MGC commissioners voted unanimously finding Plainridge Park Casino (PPC) suitable for a temporary Category 1 retail sports wagering operator license. A Category 1 license is for a sportsbook inside the casino where bettors place wagers in person. PPC is owned by PENN Entertainment and plans to partner with Barstool Sportsbook for retail sports betting services in the casino.

Concerns were raised about having Barstool Sports, Inc., involved after the company held a Barstool Sports College Football Show in Ohio. The show’s host was urging the audience, which had no age restrictions to attend, to sign up for the Barstool Sportsbook gambling app. It’s been planned for several months that Ohio will not officially launch sports betting in the state until midnight on Dec. 31.

PENN was fined $250,000 by the Ohio Casino Control Commission for the comments during the Barstool show. As of February, Barstool Sports will be fully owned by PENN Entertainment.

PENN CEO and President Jay Snowden told MGC last week the company will make changes to future live audiences for Barstool College Football Shows and not run afoul of any marketing or advertising violations.

Before voting to award a temporary license to PPC, commissioners did place two conditions on the vote.

Commissioners required that the licensee agrees that no persons under the age of 21 will be permitted entrance into any live Barstool College Football Show events. Additionally, the licensee must fully cooperate with the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau, which will conduct an investigation of Barstool Sports, Inc. in connection with the licensee’s branding.

Snowden said he is comfortable with the temporary license that would allow PPC to still launch retail sports betting in February and online wagering in March while an investigation into Barstool Sports is ongoing.

Caesars Sportsbook

Commissioners voted unanimously to find Caesars Sportsbook preliminary suitable for a temporary Category 3 online/mobile sports wagering operator license. Caesars Sportsbook will operate throughout the state tethered to PPC.

BetMGM Sportsbook

Commissioners voted unanimously to find BetMGM Massachusetts preliminary suitable for a temporary Category 3 sports wagering operator license. But conditions were placed on the vote.

The Maryland Lottery Gaming Commission fined BetMGM $145,000 for taking online sports bets ahead of the official start date in November.

Maryland first performed eight hours of controlled demonstration wagering on Nov. 21 and officially launched sports betting on Nov. 23. An investigation found that BetMGM was taking online sports bets as early as Nov. 16, according to the Maryland Lottery Gaming Commission.

Therefore, the Massachusetts commission is requiring BetMGM to provide timely and ongoing updates regarding any developments to two confidential investigations first reported to the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau on Dec. 16.

BetMGM’s online/mobile Category 3 license would be tethered to the Category 1 license awarded to MGM Springfield recently.

While being considered for a license in Massachusetts, BetMGM notified bettors that some of their private records were obtained in an “unauthorized manner.”

In an email to users, BetMGM said, “We believe that your information was contained in these records, which may have included details such as name, contact information (such as a postal address, email address, and telephone number), date of birth, hashed Social Security number, account identifiers (such as player ID and screen name) and information related to your transactions with us.”

The company has launched an investigation into the matter and is working with leading security experts to determine the nature and scope of the issue.

“We learned of the issue on Nov. 28, and believe the issue occurred in May,” BetMGM said in the email. “We currently have no evidence that patron passwords or account funds were accessed in connection with this issue.”

The company recommended users remain alert for any unsolicited communications regarding their personal information and review their accounts for suspicious activity.

Launch date nears

MGC’s Executive Director Karen Wells shed some light on moving forward toward a retail launch in late January during last week’s meeting.

Wells said MGC is ready to move forward with GLI and verify retail sports wagering operations at the state’s three casino facilities. “We have scheduled that testing to begin on Jan. 16,” Wells said. She also proposed a soft launch of sports betting in the state on Jan. 30, followed by an official launch on Jan. 31.

Political Editor

Keith Stein is a freelance journalist based in Virginia. He has experience in freelance writing, full-time journalism and supporting monthly and weekly news publications. He has also worked as a contributing writer with United Press International.