Small businesses still waiting for sports betting study on gaming kiosks in bars

After much anticipation, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has set a timeline for the launch of sports betting.
Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 10:15 PM EDT
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CHICOPEE, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - After much anticipation, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has set a timeline for the launch of sports betting. This comes after sports betting became officially legalized by lawmakers back in August.

Fans who want to place legal sports bets in Massachusetts will have to wait until 2023.

Western Mass News were out getting local reactions to this latest timeline for the launch of sports betting in the Bay State.

“The most important thing to all the bars and restaurants is the commission following through with their obligation to do a study before the end of the year to see the viability of gaming kiosks in bars and restaurants,” said Bill Stetson, owner of Rumbleseat Bar & Grille in Chicopee.

Stetson has spent the past year lobbying state legislators, asking for bars and restaurants to be included in the sports betting bill that was signed into law in August.

“Everybody asks if we are getting gaming kiosks,” Stetson told us. “Sometimes, the customers are under the false impression that the gaming kiosks were coming to bars and restaurants, so I have to explain to them, not yet, we’re still waiting for the study that the state is obligated to do, and I really want to see the results of that.”

Last week, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission held a marathon discussion where they discussed and eventually approved the official launch of sports betting, breaking up the licenses into three categories.

Here is the breakdown:

  • A Category 1 license allows sports betting at places such as casinos which is expected to launch by late January 2023.
  • A Category 2 license is for in-person wagering at certain horse and greyhound racing sites.
  • Mobile sports betting, which falls under a Category 3 license, is expected to be in place by early March of 2023.

However, conditions were applied to this timeline following much debate by commissioners over the pacing of the sports betting launch.

“If we were to propose a date, starting just for discussion purposes only and as part of the motion, we could add language that said something like, ‘Understanding that should there be staff or public comment issue brought up that would not allow for launch on this date,’ that the commission would need to discuss and take further action,” said Commissioner Bradford Hill.

State Representative Carlos González told Western Mass News what the status is of that survey, which examines how sports betting could possibly work for small businesses such as Rumbleseat Bar & Grille.

“There was never a timeline, however we hope that this could be done before the month of January,” Representative González said. “Sports betting is a new industry in Massachusetts, and we know that there’s no real timeline. However, we are trying to get over all the regulations necessary to make sure sports betting is active.”

The commission has until the end of the year to complete that study and decide if additional licenses should be granted to small businesses.