The Massachusetts Gaming Commission would like to know how many and which companies are interested in obtaining a sports betting license in the state and is asking interested companies to get in touch by the end of the month.
As it prepares to launch a new legal form of gambling under the watchful eye of the betting public, the Gaming Commission is meeting Thursday morning with five establishments – Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, Suffolk Downs and Raynham Park – who can apply for licenses that would allow them to accept both in-person betting on physical sportsbooks and also mobile betting via one or two platform partners.
The companies told the commission on Thursday that they are largely ready to go and detailed the work they have done to prepare for the legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts. MGM Springfield, for example, said it could launch betting within 90 days of the regulations becoming available, and Encore Boston Harbor said it would begin hiring immediately after the commission schedule for the launch of legal betting is known.
“One of the things we as an operator look for when we start our preparation is an official launch date,” said North Grounsell, vice president and general manager of Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville. “And this date is important because it feeds into many other operational decisions that need to be made in terms of when construction will start, whether or not we will need a temporary location, when we will start our recruitment efforts, a target date for equipment delivery, and a host of other operational decisions.”
Thursday’s group meeting with the commission is the universe of potential candidates for the Class 1 and Class 2 licenses created in the state’s new sports betting law. But the Gambling Commission can also issue up to seven Category 3 licenses that would allow a company to take bets via a mobile or digital platform, and regulators have said they want to get a better idea of the work ahead of them.
A notice of intent form the commission published on Wednesday asks any company interested in a category of license to notify it by August 31.
“As the MGC continues to work to regulate and defend sports betting in Massachusetts, the MGC asks any entity interested in obtaining a sports betting license to submit this Notice of Intent so that a landscape of interest in sports betting licenses may come into focus,” the commission said. It added: “The submission of a notice of intent does not constitute an application for a sports betting license and further failure to submit a notice of intent does not preclude an entity from applying for a sports betting license in the future.”
The number and scope of the responses could inform or influence the commission’s decision on how to proceed with sports betting implementation in the Bay State, as avid bettors are calling for quick action.
President Cathy Judd-Stein said last week that she thinks “there is a real question about who gets up first”: current commission holders who can take bets in person or mobile-only operators who aren’t necessarily connected to businesses the commission is already familiar with.