Massachusetts sports betting timeline remains a mystery as lawmakers fail to set temporary license rules. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) met Thursday, Sept. 15, with the goal of determining how temporary licenses would be issued.
The meeting led to the near passing of an unprecedented rule that would have caused much controversy. Lawmakers debated allowing up to 30 temporary licenses, but the ones who failed to receive permanent licenses would have to shut down in one year. Regulations only allow for 15 online sportsbooks in Massachusetts.
Temporary Massachusetts Sports Betting Licenses Cause Controversy
The MGC meeting saw multiple angles of temporary licenses being discussed. The one-year limit was a standout as this hasn’t happened in any other market.
There are separate requirements for what classifies as a temporary license versus a permanent license. Due to the language of the law, many sportsbooks would qualify for temporary licenses only to be forced to shut down in a year.
“Because sportsbook licenses are capped at the begging and not at the end, we have a real challenge,” said Cathy Judd-Stein, MGC Chair.
In other markets, sportsbooks that are granted temporary licenses have managed to gain permanent licenses. Sportsbooks do not launch and then are forced to close. This has only happened once; Hard Rock Sportsbook in Florida was forced to shut down operations by the DC Circuit Court.
Lawmakers opted not to go forward with this legislation. Instead, the commission determined that they will not be able to decide on the temporary licenses during the meeting.
What Is Next For Massachusetts Sports Betting
The MGC will be meeting again next week to continue the licensing conversation. Many sportsbooks have already filed to be able to operate in Massachusetts. This includes local sportsbook DraftKings and other market leaders like Caesars Sportsbook and FanDuel.
With Thursday’s meeting not seeing a definitive answer for a launch, locals may be in for a long process before sports betting can go live. Massachusetts is expected to be a major hotbed for sports betting once it launches, so lawmakers want to make the regulations perfect before they approve the rules.
The MGC will continue to meet in the coming weeks. More information regarding the temporary licenses and the official rules for permanent licenses could be determined as early as next week. The timetable is still up in the air, but lawmakers are very much so working towards having betting go live.