The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is keeping its cards in check regarding how it will distribute the 16 mobile sports betting licenses; with the application deadline of November 21 only a month away.
Massachusetts will have six retail sportsbooks and up to 16 online sportsbook licenses, which is the most for any state in the region. The state’s three casinos will have two connected online skins, and the three off-track betting facilities will each have one online skin as well. The three casinos are likely to use their first skins for their flagship sports betting brand, but partner with another commercial operator for the second skin in a deal settled by the land-based entity.
That leaves a total of seven licenses to distribute that are not directly tied to a Massachusetts land entity. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has received 23 outreach surveys from businesses showing interest in one of the 16 available online sports betting licenses, showing significant excess demand (considering the commission will distribute only seven). The regulator has previously faced criticism from smaller operators who say the $200,000 non-refundable application fee is a huge barrier to entry for smaller local operators hoping to join the ranks of sports betting.
The interesting dynamic now is if online operators decide to try and circumvent MGC’s screening process, by partnering early with one of the three casinos that have an additional skin. The advantages of this are obvious: a guaranteed skin through an operator and avoiding what will be an extremely competitive bidding process. Rather, each retail establishment will know the level of demand and, as a result, the market access fee to be charged will increase.
So far, the MGC has not revealed how it will score the applications, and with the deadline fast approaching, it is unknown if there will be any further clarity. Until the deadline is reached and the final number of applications is known, it is unknown how much competition there will be for the seven free slots available.