One of three Massachusetts casinos was given more time to apply for a sports betting license today after missing the filing deadline last week.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted 5-0 to accept MGM Springfield’s application for a personal sports betting license after ruling that the casino missed its Nov. 21 filing deadline by 48 hours due to “extraordinary circumstances” under the regulation .
MGM Springfield adviser Gus Kim told the commission the deadline was missed due to internal delays in filing the casino’s retail application and a mobile sports betting app for its betting partner, BetMGM. BetMGM’s application was submitted on time, Kim said, and the application fee for both licenses – $200,000 apiece – was paid, although the retail application itself was delayed.
“We struggled to do both BetMGM’s app and ours at the same time and there was confusion and it was an extraordinary circumstance where a lot of people were doing a lot of things at the same time,” Kim said.
After consulting with his senior counsel, the MGC voted to allow the application to proceed in person. Commissioner Eileen O’Brien said the regulatory freedom on the matter, combined with the fact that personal licenses are not up for auction, helped her vote in favor of the casino.
O’Brien also cited the commission’s decision to accept retail and mobile sports betting license applications from horse racing simulcasts after the Nov. 21 deadline as a reason for her vote.
“For me, those are pretty strong reasons in terms of my willingness to say yes,” she said.
How retail licenses work for mass sports betting
Massachusetts has three casinos that are eligible for in-person sports betting licenses under the state’s 2022 sports betting law. The other two – Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park Casino – have both set application deadlines.
All three in-person sports betting licenses (Category 1 licenses) reserved for the three Massachusetts casinos are non-competitive, the MGC clarified today. This means that a casino is guaranteed a retail license if the commission is deemed appropriate.
However, casinos were expected to meet the commission’s Nov. 21 deadline.
Similarly, the state’s two horse racing simulcast venues – Suffolk Downs and Raynham Park – are guaranteed a retail license (Category 2) pending suitability review. The MGC voted Nov. 10 to allow both locations to submit their retail applications after the Nov. 21 deadline on an ongoing basis.
Mobile sports betting applications associated with a casino or simulcast facility, known as Category 3 tethered licences, will be licensed separately. Each casino is allowed up to two mobile sports betting apps by law. Each simulcast location is allowed one.
In addition, the MGC will review applications for up to seven unlinked Category 3 licenses that are not linked to either a casino or a simulcast venue.
15 applications submitted by the deadline
The MGC reported on November 21 that a total of 15 sports betting license applications had been submitted by the deadline, including applications for both Category 1 and Category 3 licences, both casino-related and non-casino-related. A single Category 3 application was for a mobile application linked to a simulcast facility (bet365, in partnership with Raynham Park).
MGC official Loretta Lillios said today that the agency is now working to ensure all applications are in order. Lillios said her office is aligning its work to meet the commission’s rollout timeline.
At the moment, retail sportsbooks at casinos are slated to launch in late January. The mobile sportsbook is scheduled to launch in early March.
“(The agency) is not waiting (to begin) its preliminary suitability review,” Lillios said. “This happens all the time.”
MGC plans to hold a public comment period on the three casino apps on December 5. Public comment on casino-related mobile license applications will follow on December 12.
A public hearing on applications for non-casino mobile sportsbooks is scheduled for Jan. 3.