DraftKings, BetMGM Among Six to Launch Online Sports Betting in Massachusetts

Barstool Sportsbook trips out the gate, but recovers. Meanwhile, FanDuel may have already run afoul of the state’s advertising rules.
Massachusetts Launches Online Sports Betting with Six Operators
March 11, 2023

The debut of sports betting in Massachusetts has delivered an incredible amount of excitement and activity to our retail Sportsbook at MGM Springfield.

Massachusetts became the 25th US jurisdiction with mobile sports betting on Friday, after six operators launched their MA sports betting platforms in the state.

And just in time for March Madness.

The half dozen operators — BetMGM, DraftKings, Caesars Sportsbook, Barstool Sportsbook, FanDuel, and WynnBET — were cleared by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) to launch at 10 a.m. ET on Friday.

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BetMGM has launched with a $1000 first bet refund for new customers. DraftKings’ deal offers $200 in bonus bets for all new customers that wager $5.

Five of the six launches appeared to go off without a hitch. The lone exception was Barstool Sportsbook, which could not accept mobile wagers for more than an hour. The delay drew the ire of Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports.

Launch Day Arrives

The mood was more festive among Barstool’s rivals. Executives with BetMGM and WynnBET noted an uptick in activity at its retail sportsbooks, which opened over five weeks ago, on January 31. Their retail facilities are located at the MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor casinos, respectively.

“Following our successful retail sports betting launch at Encore Boston Harbor, we are excited to introduce the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to the WynnBET online experience,” said Wynn Sports Interactive President Ian Williams. “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.”

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

Comments from Eric Hession, President of Caesars Digital, suggest the state was launching sports betting at an optimal time — just days before the start of the NCAA’s March Madness; the men’s tournament starts on March 14, while the women’s tournament begins on March 15.

“With the sports calendar gaining momentum and multiple Massachusetts teams having remarkable seasons, it’s a great time to bring a new entertainment experience to sports fans in the Commonwealth,” Hession said. “Caesars Sportsbook is primed to deliver a best-in-class sports wagering experience to Massachusetts sports fans, and we’d like to thank the MGC for approving our expansion into the Bay State.”

Caesars is partnered with Raynham Park, one of two horse racetracks in the state.

BetMGM, FanDuel Land Big Partnerships

Two operators, BetMGM and FanDuel, have already secured big partnerships to promote their brands in Massachusetts. But FanDuel appears to have run afoul of the state’s advertising requirements before the market even launched.

BetMGM has entered into an agreement with MLB’s Boston Red Sox. Under the deal, BetMGM signage will be featured throughout Fenway Park, including on the Green Monster.

Meanwhile, FanDuel and the New England Sports Network (NESN) signed an agreement where FanDuel will be promoted through commercials, in-game sponsorship integrations, and pre-game features on the regional sports network. FanDuel will also partner with NESN’s sports wagering site, NESNBets.com.

NESN broadcasts Red Sox games as well as matches featuring the NHL’s Boston Bruins.

On Friday, FanDuel announced a separate partnership with the Bruins. In a deal similar to the BetMGM-Fenway one, FanDuel will see its logo on signage along the dasher boards inside TD Garden, the Bruins’ home arena in Boston, and on the NHL’s new digitally enhanced dasher boards. The Bruins and FanDuel will also collaborate on digital and social media content.

“Massachusetts is home to some of the most passionate fan bases across the country and we’re excited to enhance their viewing experience with the launch of the FanDuel Sportsbook app,” said FanDuel Group COO Mike Raffensperger. “Bruins fans are the true embodiment of that passion and we look forward to supporting the team this season and beyond.”

But as FanDuel was celebrating the launch of its online sportsbook and its new partnerships, news broke that the MSC had launched an investigation into some of FanDuel’s advertising, and that the operator had pulled some ads running in the state.

BetMGM is tethered to the land-based casino license of MGM Springfield, while FanDuel has a standalone license.

Additional Operators to Launch Later

MGC announced Wednesday that a seventh operator — Betr, a micro-betting site co-founded by Joey Levy and Jake Paul — would not launch Friday. No reason was given for the delay. Eighth and ninth operators Bally Bet and Fanatics plan to launch in the coming months, the former said it plans to do so in May.

Betway plans to launch in Massachusetts in 2024. Meanwhile, PointsBet delayed its launch — it applied for a license but withdrew its application before it needed to pay state regulators its licensing fee — while UK-based scratched plans to launch with Raynham Park.

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