Massachusetts mobile sports betting launches with six operators

The wait is finally over: mobile sports betting has finally arrived in Massachusetts. Online sportsbook operators went live with their products today, Friday, at 10 a.m., about 40 days after legalized sports wagering launched on a retail basis at the Bay State’s three casinos, and just days ahead of tip-off of the NCAA Tournament next week.

The mobile betting launch comes a little over a month after in-person wagering started at Encore Boston Harbor, Plainridge Park Casino, and MGM Springfield on January 31; and seven months after the practice was legalized when then-governor Charlie Baker signed the Sports Wagering Act into law on August 10, 2022. Six sportsbook apps went live on Friday: Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM Sportsbook, WynnBET, Barstool Sportsbook, FanDuel and DraftKings.

While 10 mobile sportsbooks had been approved for licenses by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, not all of them were part of the state’s first day of legal betting. Fanatics and Bally Bet won’t go live in the Commonwealth until May, and Betway won’t launch until the first quarter of 2024. For its part, PointsBet told commissioners in February it abandoned the market.

Industry stakeholders and insiders expect Massachusetts to be among the most competitive and lucrative online wagering markets in the United States. Lawmakers estimate that legal sports betting could generate around $60 million in yearly tax revenue for the state and $70 million to $80 million in initial licensing fees, which must be renewed every five years. 

People must be 21 or older to bet. The Massachusetts wagering law calls for a 15% tax on in-person wagering, and a 20% tax on mobile sports betting. It also comes with high barriers of entry, with an annual fee of $1 million per operator. Despite these costs, sportsbook brands now live in the Bay State showed optimism on Friday, following their much-awaited launch.

DraftKings president and co-founder Matt Kalish told Associated Press the company was thrilled to launch just before the start of the NCAA basketball tournaments. “The most common way people jump into the product is usually for some big sports event. It might be the Super Bowl or something upcoming like March Madness,” he said. “So we’re launching in Massachusetts just in time for what should be an amazing tournament.”

DraftKings' Matt Kalish

DraftKings and other operators like FanDuel and BetMGM spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying for legalized sports betting in Massachusetts. The legislature passed the sports betting bill in the summer, making Massachusetts the 36th state to allow commercial sports gaming. Now, the company and its rivals are spending hundreds of dollars to get new users in the state online through ads and bonus bets.

Some operators expect cross-selling opportunities between their land-based operations and their new mobile products. “We are excited to introduce the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to the WynnBET online experience,” Wynn Sports Interactive President Ian Williams said. “Patrons in Massachusetts will immediately be able to enjoy our robust Wynn Rewards program, which syncs with Encore Boston Harbor, as well as a significant menu of sports betting options.”

“The debut of sports betting in Massachusetts has delivered an incredible amount of excitement and activity to our retail Sportsbook at MGM Springfield,” noted BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt in a statement. “We’re proud to expand our best-in-class wagering experience statewide during one of sports’ biggest months of action.”

Victor Matheson, a sports economist at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, told WBUR that following Friday’s launch around 90% of sports bets might be placed online, and that approximately $5 billion worth of sports bets could be placed in Massachusetts per year.