It took the state legislature more than four years to legalize Massachusetts sports betting. That formally happened in August of this year when Governor Charlie Baker signed the state’s sports betting legislation. In the process, Massachusetts became the 31st state to take the legal sports betting plunge.

After the legislation was signed, hopes ran high among Massachusetts residents that they might get the chance to start betting on sports by January of 2023. That would be in time for the NFL playoffs, leading to the Super Bowl in February.

It now looks like online wagering on NFL games during the 2022-2023 season is nothing more than a pipe dream.

A Review of the Legislation

When the Massachusetts sports betting legislation was signed, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) was appointed as the regulator. Their job is to enforce the rules that were established by the bill and create the rest of the state’s sports betting infrastructure.

The rules were largely focused on licensing and fees. The law authorized the MGC to issue Type 1 licenses to Massachusetts retail casinos, Type 2 licenses to the state’s race tracks and simulcasting facilities, and Type 3 licenses to independent mobile sports betting operators like DraftKings and Caesars Sportsbook.

Initially, the MAC can give out as many temporary licenses as they want as long as operators are willing to pay the required license fees for one year. Beyond the one-year temporary licensing period, only seven licenses can be distributed to non-casino operators.

What the law failed to do was determine a launch date for legal sports betting. That was left to the MGC and is something they have struggled to nail down. The uncertainty st becoming a problem for Massachusetts residents who have waited their entire lives for the chance to wager on sports from home.

Retail First, Online Later

The delay in selecting a launch date seems to center on how the MGC wants to roll out the availability of sports betting for residents. The inability to reach an agreement at an MGC meeting on October 7, 2022, bothers Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein.

In a press release, Judd-Stein stated: “I am very concerned about the rate of our decision-making,” after which she followed up by saying, “I am very concerned about our ability to move forward.”

The latest proposal calls for retail casinos to launch in the early part of January 2023. That would leave race tracks and mobile operators waiting a further month or two to start taking bets. As things stand, it’s the best guideline for the probable start dates.

So the likelihood is Massachusetts online sports betting will launch in March. The bad news for operators and fans is they will have missed the NFL season, playoffs and Super Bowl. On the plus side, it could be just in time for March Madness. Either way, the long wait is nearly over.