Encore Boston Harbor became the first Massachusetts property to receive a license for a brick-and-mortar sports book when the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday. The decision comes after MGC chose to defer decisions on PENN Entertainment’s licenses for Plainridge Park and MGM Springfield.
On Tuesday, MGC decided to delay a decision on licensing Plainridge Park because of questions surrounding the relationship between PENN Entertainment and Plainridge Park’s retail location and Barstool Sportsbook, which operates the digital platform. Commissioners pointed out The New York Times They worry that the story about Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy — a Massachusetts native — doesn’t meet the high integrity standards of Portnoy and the Barstool Commission.
On Wednesday, the commission delayed granting a license to MGM Springfield because the company’s application is too closely tied to the BetMGM digital app, which has yet to be reviewed. The commission reviewed Category 1 (retail) applications for the state’s three casinos this week and plans to review Category 3 (digital) applications next week. It will also review the digital applications of Caesars Sportsbook, which has contracted to take over the second skin of Encore Boston Harbor, and Fanatics Sportsbook, which operates under the second skin of Plainridge Park. MGM also has two digital platforms, but the latter has not announced a partner.
In-person sports betting is slated to launch in Massachusetts in “late January,” and digital is set for “early March.”
Kiosks are everywhere
Thursday’s meeting lasted more than six hours as commissioners had practical questions and concerns regarding kiosks, responsible gaming and the relationship between Encore Boston Harbor and WinBet, which operates retail and digital sportsbooks. Ultimately, MGC decided that its questions about the relationship were much narrower in scope than MGM’s questions the previous day and chose to move forward.
“I felt I had to look at MGM [the BetMGM application] Absolutely, but for this, I don’t need an application in front of me, but I want to answer questions,” said Commissioner Natasha Skinner.
The commissioners moved forward after their legal counsel, Todd Grossman, said, “I don’t think there are any perfect lines. I think it’s clearly relevant, you have [WynnBET] your prior application”, however it cannot be used for “final consideration” of a Category 3 licence.
Early in the meeting, commissioners asked Wynn senior vice president and general counsel Jacqui Krum questions about Encore’s plan to place kiosks in its parking garage and the idea of temporarily moving the kiosks to event spaces. As part of its proposal, Encore Boston Harbor outlined plans to include a park and play area with kiosks in its parking garage. The venue is designed for customers to bet without entering the facility. Crum said the kiosk parking area will have a 15-minute time limit, and the area will be constantly monitored by security and parking attendants.
Encore Boston Harbor representatives are considering moving the kiosks to event locations to host parties around events such as the Super Bowl, March Madness or other sports championships. The idea would be to temporarily use the kiosks inside the venue during these meetings, but Crum indicated that the idea was on Encore’s “wish list” and not included in its application.
Inside the new book
Encore Boston Harbor will not create a new location for its sportsbook, but will replace its current sports bar with the WynnBET sportsbook when the operators go live. The company will locate kiosks around the gaming floor, on the mezzanine level and in the parking garage.
It’s official! Sports betting license approved for Encore Boston Harbor! “Boston’s Sportsbook” will open in early 2023. pic.twitter.com/uFAdkwhYBG
— Encore Boston Harbor (@EncoreResortBH) December 8, 2022
The sports bar is outfitted with 70 televisions, including a 10-foot-tall and 123-foot-long video wall that wraps around the teller window area. The space has multiple bar areas, easy access to restaurants including Shake Shack, and club-style seating.
The commission is likely to vote on the Type 1 licenses for MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park next week, though MGC has not committed to that, and staff has said it will continue to move forward even if the other licenses are not awarded. .