September 24, 2022
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Sports betting roundtable planned for Thursday to focus on initial preparations and timelines

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets Thursday morning to hear from the state’s three casinos and simulcasting facilities about how they are preparing for in-person sports betting now that Gov. Charlie Baker signed a law last week legalizing the measure.

The conversation, a part of a series of roundtables the commission plans to host with potential sports betting stakeholders, will start at 10 a.m. and is scheduled to run for several hours. It comes as the commission is starting to lay out an initial path forward for implementing a complex and nuanced sports wagering law that lawmakers reached a compromise on earlier this summer.

At a meeting last week, commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said the meeting will feature discussions with current licensees in Massachusetts “because they are positioned differently” when it comes to sports betting compared to those that will apply for one of seven mobile betting licenses.

“We at the MGC must now work with our current and prospective licensees to set up the requisite operating framework so that sports wagering activity here in the commonwealth is ensured the integrity you expect and the consumer protections you and the sports community deserve,” Judd-Stein said.

An agenda shows the meeting broken down into five parts, with representatives from Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, Suffolk Downs and Raynham Park all attending.

The conversation will first turn to presentations from each entity on their initial preparations for in-person sports wagering. After that, the discussion will focus on operational considerations like staffing, house rules, security, equipment and technology, and any challenges that have already been identified.

The commission and the stakeholders will then cover licensing procedures for operators and vendors before taking a lunch break. Upon return, the agenda shows the meeting will focus on responsible gaming, advertising, and marketing guidelines before turning to a discussion on timelines.

A full agenda is available online. The meeting will be livestreamed on the Gaming Commission’s website.

At their meeting last week, staff members and commissioners started to identify the first topics that will require prompt regulatory action and steps needed to get the industry running. That includes things like getting a feel for the number of potential mobile license applicants and hammering out the details of applications.

Lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Baker gave the Gaming Commission wide authority to regulate Massachusetts’s fledgling sports betting industry, a point Judd-Stein noted last week.

“The commission is delving into this law,” she said. “It’s very complicated, and we may find that there need to be adjustments as we go through the planning process. As those come up, we will work with the Legislature and the governor’s office on any necessary fixes.”

The group has identified over 200 potential regulations that need to be dealt with. Deputy General Counsel Caitlin Monahan has previously said attorneys at the commission are in the process of drafting those.

“You may be asking yourself, well, ‘how are you going to get through 225 regulations?’” she said. “We have to prioritize them in some way, shape or form. So we have created three priority tiers of our regulations. Priority tier one is the ones that we’ll tackle first, priority tier two second.”

Sports betters may have to wait months before they can walk into an establishment or open an app on their phone to place a bet. Commissioners made clear earlier this month that there is much work to be done to get the industry going.

Days before Baker signed the sports betting bill into law, Commissioner Brad Hill said getting the industry up and running is “something that isn’t going to happen overnight.”

“I just want the public to be clear, at least from my view, I’m not speaking for the whole commission, but from my point of view, this is going to take a little longer than people probably anticipate,” the former state representative said.

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