The Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved a timeline Friday calling for a late January 2023 launch of in person sports betting and an early March launch of online betting in the state.
The 4-0 vote, with one abstention, was taken just before 3:30 p.m. after hours of discussion. Friday's meeting followed a previous meeting on Thursday where the commissioners were unable to reach agreement on a timetable of when sports betting would be rolled out.
The commission reserved the right, however, to push back that timeline if necessary.
If all goes as planned, in person sports wagering will be live in Massachusetts ahead of the Super Bowl, and online betting ahead of March Madness, two major events on the sports calendar.
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"You've got a lot of work ahead of you, but it's really exciting," Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said after the vote. "It's been work we've been anticipating, and I really hope this involves a feeling of team and teamwork ahead of you, and I think the commissioners have all shown their investment in this team.
Commissioner Eileen O'Brien had raised a concern that if more than 15 applications are received, the March deadline might wind up being too aggressive. But she ultimately wound up going along with the vote to approve the timeline.
"I think early March is overly aggressive and not realistic. That's based on knowing how long it takes to go through the hearings," she said. "I think the assumption of 12 to 15 (applicants) is low, and I'm a pessimistic person by nature, and I think that's an overly optimistic number."
The commission has been under pressure to get legal sports betting up and running after the Legislature slow-walked the issue for years, but regulators have run into hurdles that have complicated their efforts in the nearly two months since Gov. Charlie Baker signed the betting law. Eager bettors have been clamoring for action, and the commissioners have said they want to implement legal sports betting here without unnecessary delay but also without sacrificing their commitment to consumer protection and gaming integrity.
State House News Service Contributed to This Report