The launch of retail sports betting at Massachusetts’s three casinos at the end of January was the appetizer.
The main course arrives Friday at 10 a.m., when mobile wagering begins and Massachusetts bettors won’t even have to get up from their couches, chairs, and beds to place a bet from their phones or laptops.
Because it’s so easy to do, mobile betting dominates the legal sports betting landscape in the United States, with the American Gaming Association estimating that 89.2 percent of revenue from sports wagers comes from mobile betting, the remainder from retail.
Massachusetts is expected to fall right in line with that percentage.
In the first full year of legal sports wagering in the US, the online piece of the revenue pie in 2019 was 40 percent, according to the AGA. That nearly doubled the next year, and in 2021 it rose to 83.5.
Last year, 99 percent of New York’s sports betting revenue came online; it was 89 percent in New Hampshire, 58 percent in Rhode Island, and 45 percent in Nevada.
Revenue generated from mobile betting in the state will be taxed at a 20 percent rate. Retail sportsbooks are taxed at 15 percent.
Since sports betting was legalized, more than $200 billion has been wagered in the US, where 33 states and Washington, D.C., have active sports betting.
Six options to bet on sports on your phone
After a vote to grant Category 3 operating licenses by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Thursday, six online operators have the green light to accept bets at 10 a.m. Friday.
- Barstool Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
The Betr app informed the commission this week that it will not be ready by Friday. Betr hopes to be up and running in the state by next month. Fanatics and BallyBet are expected to go live by midyear, with Betway expected next year.
Mobile betting offers
Each of the six mobile betting operators are offering some form of pre-launch registration and/or post-launch promotions that include some version of “bonus bets.”
BetMGM and DraftKings are offering $200 spread out over four $50 bonus bets for new customers, with DraftKings customers with accounts from other states eligible for $100 in bonus bets. FanDuel was offering $100 in bonus bets for only new customers, with Caesars and Barstool offering a $100 bonus. WynnBet featured a $50 bonus bet for signing up and $100 bet credit for launch day. Barstool has a $1,000 insurance policy covering your first bet if it loses.
Alex Monahan, co-founder of the OddsJam sports betting education website, offered advice for new bettors and tips for how they can take advantage of those promotions.
“A lot of people dive into sports betting very quickly because they think they know sports,” said Monahan. “But the people making money in sports betting, it’s not people watching highlights of Kyrie [Irving]. A lot of people will be signing up for sportsbooks for the first time. Just take the time to step back and try to learn a bit at first.”
Shopping for the best odds among the sportsbooks is smart, said Monahan, for those looking for an edge similar to professional sports bettors, whose rate of return is only 2-4 percent.
Regarding promo bets, most of them do not return the amount of the wager with a win. That means if you bet on a favorite and win, you will receive only the winnings, not the original stake. Monahan advises using bonus bets to wager on underdogs, since the return on winnings is greater than betting on favorites.
Keeping tabs on ads
With commercials and pre- and post-launch promotions flooding TV, radio, and social media channels, the Massachusetts Attorney General wants the MGC to toughen regulations on advertising and marketing.
Referral bonuses, data collection usage, protecting youth from advertising, and the ability to impose time and wager limits were among the concerns presented by four members of the AG’s office in Thursday’s meeting. All five gaming commissioners expressed a desire to collaborate with the AG’s office in the post-launch phase as the operators turn their attention from customer acquisition to customer retention.
The AG’s office will strive to supply the MGC with specific language before a regulation-setting meeting later this month. Specifically, the AG wants the MGC to review operators’ promotions before they are released and to ensure all sportsbooks advertise only on platforms for 21-and-older audiences.
Doubling down in Cambridge
Using searches for “sports betting” over the last 12 months on Google, BetMassachusetts.com came up with an interest-ranking of the top 10 most populated cities in the state. In order: Cambridge, Quincy, Fall River, Lowell, Springfield, New Bedford and Brockton (T-6th), Lynn, Worcester, and Boston. More than twice as many Cantabrigians, .31 per resident, pursued the topic as Bostonians, .14 per resident.
For those tracking, here are some of the local sports celebrities hired by the new operators:
FanDuel: Rob Gronkowski
DraftKings: Zdeno Chara, Brian Scalabrine, Todd Angilly
WynnBet: Julian Edelman
BetMGM: Kevin Garnett
More to come
The MGC is still working on regulations and other developments on a variety of fronts, from whether sportsbooks can deduct promotional costs from taxable revenue to punishments for the three casinos for allowing bets in February on Massachusetts college sports.
Michael Silverman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.