Substantive agreement among sports betting contenders underway as launch nears
Companies involved in Massachusetts’ nascent sports betting market are already beginning to seek agreements and partnerships among themselves ahead of the expected launch of sports betting early next year, according to new documents regulators have posted on MassLive and interviews with key stakeholders. .
Public details are still scarce, but a handful of indicators of potential partnerships are emerging in the surveys that sports betting hopefuls were required to submit to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission last month as part of the sports betting application process and during discussions. with industry experts.
The surveys ask for basic information from those wishing to apply for a sports betting license – their type of business, whether listed on a stock exchange, management structure, investors, and parent company information.
The surveys also ask companies to indicate whether they have provided an attachment listing current gaming licensees or sports betting applicants with whom they have “an agreement to conduct or are in the process of negotiating an agreement”. The majority of the 30 companies that responded to the surveys said they had submitted one of the attachments describing these potential or consolidated partnerships.
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Although the attachments are not yet publicly available, agreements are made behind the scenes between retail operators and online businesses. Raynham Park owner Chris Carney said his business was “within two weeks” of partnering with a digital betting platform to run the racecourse’s only online betting platform.
“We are currently looking for a retail and online partner,” Carney said in an interview with MassLive, though he declined to provide specific details ahead of the partnership announcement.
Industry insiders say the “licensee association” attachments, as they are called in the polls, could also show which online companies are looking to partner with the state’s three casinos in the goal of solidifying their place in Massachusetts’ newest sport. betting market.
Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainrdige Park Casino have applied for Category 1 licenses under the state’s sports betting law, which, if approved, would allow them to offer in-person wagering and betting online through up to two individually branded platforms.
If an online betting company can strike the right deal with a casino, experts say, it is more than likely guaranteed to enter the Massachusetts market without having to compete with other companies for one of the seven licenses. betting sites authorized by state law.
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That’s exactly what state gaming regulators wanted to glean from the “licensee attachment” – which online companies make deals to run one of two digital betting platforms the three State casinos have access under the Sports Betting Act, according to a commission official.
Experts also discussed whether a betting company could obtain one of the seven independent online betting licenses and negotiate a deal to operate a mobile or digital betting platform for one of the casinos, allowing them to manage two online sports betting operations.
But it’s unclear if regulators will let that happen or if state law allows such a scenario. A spokesman for the commission said the Gambling Commission is expected to discuss the matter in public meetings before a decision is made.
On the dealings front, insiders say most of the action is happening among the state’s two racetracks and simulcast facilities – Raynham Park and Suffolk Downs – which will have to rely on an outside company to run their operations. sports betting, both online and retail.
At least one company has made it clear that they are looking to negotiate with her.
In its investigation, FanLogic said it wanted to both compete for an online betting license that is not tied to a physical operation and partner with one of the horse racing tracks.
“FanLogic has not identified a tier two partner. However, we may be in discussions with a tier two partner in the near future. As such, FanLogic would apply for both a tier three tied and untethered sports betting license said the company’s framing survey.
A representative for FanLogic did not respond to a request for comment.
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But the timing for the launch of Category 2 licenses is still unclear, even though the Gambling Commission has voted to approve a start in late January for in-person betting at casinos and early March for online betting.
At a commission hearing in early October, commission executive director Karen Wells said category two applicants were “intentionally” not included in the timelines because regulators needed more information. information from them.
“We need more information from them about their plans and their partners before we can determine where they are on the schedule,” she said. “So that would be another discussion.”
Rimon Law’s solicitor Steven Eichel, who is representing Raynham Park in its bidding process, said racetracks’ timing depends on when they select a sportsbook company to run their betting operations.
He said Raynham Park cannot begin its bid until that partnership is solidified, adding that it is “sort of a trigger event to really get into the bidding process”.
As for what Raynham Park is looking for in a future partner, Eichel said it’s no state secret “to say that we want a partner who is going to give us the biggest anticipated market share.”
“But at the same time, it goes without saying that this can only happen with an operational partner who is one of the main players and who has real credibility both in the market for consumers and with the Commission. games,” he said.
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State law requires holders of category two sports betting licenses to make a capital investment of at least $7.5 million. Raynham Park is building a 30,000 square foot gaming facility near their former race track in Bristol County.
Carney said he is spending more than $25 million on the new facility, which he hopes will become a “destination location” for sports betting.
“I wanted to stay in Bristol County, I wanted to stay at the dog track because the town and the family have a great relationship and a good history,” he said. “I didn’t want to try to recreate the wheel with someone I didn’t know. I had very good support from the city. »
Commonwealth Equine and Agriculture Centre, better known as Great Meadowbrook Farm, has also submitted an investigation, although their plans to open a thoroughbred horse racing track and sports betting center in Hardwick have been rejected by the city’s board of directors.
A representative for Suffolk Downs did not respond to a request for comment.
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The trading and information sharing potential had at least one gambling regulator concerned last week.
In a virtual hearing, Commissioner Jordan Maynard said he was concerned about information a casino might collect from a retail betting kiosk after its launch in January, which could then be passed on to a betting operator online unattached “that might give someone a thumbs up.”
“That’s something I’d like to address later as we continue to move forward with the regulations,” he said. “…But I’m concerned about equity issues. I’m keen to give someone a hand and will work with my fellow Commissioners, if interested, to find ways to level the playing field once everyone is up and running.