Retail sports betting might be launching in January in Massachusetts, but the action has already started.
Operators are competing for seven Massachusetts online sports betting licenses and two casino-tethered licenses that would allow them to run an online and retail sportsbook.
Companies are working behind the scenes to strike deals with sports betting operators, according to reports. The full details of these deals aren’t public yet, but documentation submitted to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission indicates multiple companies are closing in on deals.
As a sign of how quickly entities want to make a move, Raynham Park Owner Chris Carney told MassLive his company will name a partnership with a sports betting operator in less than two weeks.
Will DraftKings make a move for a retail sportsbook?
Over the next few weeks, we’ll likely see FanDuel, Caesars, BetMGM, and DraftKings announce their entry into the Massachusetts market.
By far the most interesting operator in the group is Boston-based DraftKings. The company has voiced its frustration to the MGC about the commission’s decision to launch retail betting before online.
DraftKings told the MGC that launching retail first puts the company and other mobile operators at a disadvantage.
As recently as late October, the MGC rejected the DraftKings complaint. Its retail-first approach will go through.
That leaves DraftKings in an interesting position. They’re likely a lock for one of the seven at-large online licenses simply because its brand recognition will generate plenty of revenue.
Retail licenses at casinos and racinos are a dicier proposition. The state’s three casinos will likely stay in-house for their retail sportsbooks (BetMGM, Barstool Sports, WynnBET) which leaves a pair of retail licenses available:
- One at Suffolk Downs
- One at Raynham Park
DraftKings could face tough competition if FanDuel and Caesars are in the running for racino licenses.
Another consideration for DraftKings: The state taxes retail sports betting at 15%. That’s five percentage points lower than the 20% tax on online sports betting.
Competition for Massachusetts sports betting licenses could be fierce
As it stands now, there are 20 licenses available in three categories:
- Five retail licenses
- Eight online licenses tied to a casino or racino
- Seven untethered online licenses
The five retail licenses are likely locked down or nearly locked down at this stage. The 15 casino/racino-tied licenses and untethered licenses are likely still in play.
Assuming they don’t opt for a retail license, FanDuel, DraftKings, and Caesars will likely take three of the seven untethered licenses. Barstool, BetMGM, and WynnBET may take three of the tethered licenses.
That would leave nine licenses for the remaining 21 operators that submitted surveys.
Some bigger names among those 21 operators? BetRivers, Bally Bet, bet365, and Fanatics. Smaller names include MaximBet, Easywin, Novibet, and BuddyBet.
Perhaps the most novel operator among the 21 is Betr, the Jake Paul-led micro-betting site that’s inked deals in two states so far.