Don’t worry, Massachusetts: You’ll get your NFL betting soon (probably)

One thing we’ve learned in the years since the Supreme Court decision on PASPA allowed sports betting across the US: namely that government can move rather rapidly once gaming is approved into law.

At the beginning of this month, the Massachusetts state legislature approved licensure for sports betting outlets online and in casinos. Yesterday, on August 10th, Gov. Charlie Baker signed the relevant bill into law, and today the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) held its first meeting to determine the steps moving forward.

MCG chairperson Cathy Judd-Stein told local media directly after meeting, “We know you’re all eager for an exact timeline [for sportsbooks to open for business], and development of that is underway.”

The bad news implied by the statement is that no timeline has been set, and in fact the first meeting hit an expected sticking point; the good news is that this same sticking point may end up offering the state’s sports bettors a lot more freedom of choice than is typical of recent state markets’ openings.

The provision under debate is an item within the bill-cum-law which allows the MGC to issue temporary licenses to extant casinos to provide sports betting immediately. As has been the case in other states introducing legalizing sportsbooks, facilities within Massachusetts’s three sportsbooks are essentially ready to open at a moment’s notice.

The new state law allows the MCG to issue licenses to two online sportsbooks tying in with the three casinos, one online sportsbook partnering with the Suffolk Downs racino and up to seven further online betting providers unassociated with any bricks-and-mortar operation.

Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Bradford Hill urged his MGC comrades at the meeting to take a more conservative route, licensing operators one at a time with a thorough vetting process.

While the average state government takes about eight months from passage of a bill in legislation to grand opening of sportsbooks, experts figure that Massachusetts will be ahead of the curve and most expect to see NFL betting freely available in Massachusetts well before Super Bowl LVII.

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