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DraftKings logo displayed on a mobile phone, a basketball and playing cards are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on September 21, 2021. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto)

Breathe easy, Massachusetts sports bettors: DraftKings will be there soon.

The Boston-based sports betting site has been given one of six untethered sports betting licenses in Massachusetts, paving the way for the Boston-based sportsbook giant to begin operations in its home state when online Massachusetts sports betting launches in early March.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission wrapped up almost three weeks of hearings and interviews with prospective standalone providers Tuesday, and took less than two days to come to a final agreement on the approved temporary online sports betting licenses.

FanDuel, Bally Bet, PointsBet and Betway were also awarded untethered Category 3 licenses by the MGC following positive hearings with the commission. Betr Sportsbook joined the list of approved sports betting sites, as well, but the decision wasn't unanimous – and the Jake Paul-led sports betting site might be kicking off its Massachusetts entry on shaky ground.

The Commission considered such factors as the provider experience & expertise in the gaming industry, the applicants' potential economic impact on the market, responsible gaming focus, racial, ethnic, and gender diversity plans, their technological chops, and their overall suitability to the Massachusetts scene.

Betr Controversy

While a quick decision was expected on the six official licensees for mobile Massachusetts sports betting, members of the Commission cited a "compressed timeline" as reason for the decision coming so rapidly. 

Commissioner Eileen O’Brien mentioned a lack of "more room for analysis, comparative analysis, beyond what we’ve done,” as reason for some reservations about her ultimate approval of the six lucky applicants. She actually voted against Betr, whose affiliation with internet sensation and professional fighter Paul raised a few red flags during a contentious hearing late last week.

Nakisha Skinner, another of the MGC's members also cited the narrow timeline as reason for the quick decision.

All other applicants received unanimous “Yes” votes.

It appears that a “get something rather than nothing done” sentiment was the predominant factor in the Commission’s expedited decisions. 

Tethered Sportsbooks Also Revealed

The MGC also announced which mobile sportsbooks will be tied to land-based casinos in the Bay State.

Barstool Sportsbook and Fanatics will be tethered to Penn National-owned Plainridge Park Casino, BetMGM will run out of MGM Springfield, and Caesars and WynnBET will operate out of Encore Boston Harbor.

Massachusetts retail sports betting is set to launch Jan. 31 at 10 a.m., in time for the Super Bowl. Mobile wagering is on track to be ready for March Madness – the other significant early-year sports betting event on the American calendar.

MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, and Plainridge Park can take bets on the NFL Championship games for in-person windows wagering, or via betting kiosks at their branded casino properties.

What's Next in Massachusetts?

Despite retail sports betting ready to roll – and the majority of the best sportsbooks in the country now approved to operate in Massachusetts – there's still work to be done before the full framework of the state's legal sports betting industry is set in stone.

Advertising rules and whether or not to include promotional deductions as part of their overall industry taxation are still on the table, among other smaller regulatory issues.

More sportsbooks could be considered as well. The rules in Massachusetts allow for seven untethered licenses, which leaves one available to a prospective sports betting site.

But it appears it's “all systems go” for a Massachusetts market that analysts from Deutsche Bank will result in excess of $306 million in gross gaming revenues in 2023 alone.

In the meantime, sports bettors can look forward to Massachusetts sportsbook promos that are on par with or even exceed the industry standard in what should be one of the most competitive sportsbook landscapes in the country.