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Mobile sports betting gets off to a rousing start in Massachusetts

Taylor Foehl of Boston made a bet using his phone while at the Cask 'n Flagon bar near Fenway Park Friday, the first day mobile betting was allowed.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

These are early days still in a brand-new industry, but sports betting is grabbing the attention of both bettors and regulators in Massachusetts.

Over the first weekend of mobile wagering, Massachusetts bettors invested far more time placing bets than did those in similarly sized states, according to Tuesday’s data from GeoComply, a state-licensed geolocation compliance and security company.

With mobile betting divvied up among six operators, more than 8.1 million geolocation transactions were made and more than 400,000 unique accounts — nearly 6 percent of the state’s population of 7 million — were established.

GeoComply said Massachusetts was the fifth-busiest online betting state, trailing only far bigger peers New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.


Virginia, with a population of 8.7 million, has 179,000-plus accounts and saw just 4.4 million transactions over the same time period.

Maryland, with 6.2 million in population, had 5.2 million transactions from its 187,000-plus online bettors.

Revenue figures for the first partial month of online betting, which began at 10 a.m. Friday, will not be known until the middle of April. They are expected to dwarf, by an estimated ratio of 80-20 percent, revenue from sports betting at the state’s three casinos that began Jan. 31.

Besides the ease of establishing an account on a phone and then betting from it, another reason for the big numbers in Massachusetts no doubt was the concerted effort by the half-dozen operators to grab bettors’ attention.

Ads on TV, radio, and social media platforms have been running at a steady and hard-to-miss clip. Adding tangible interest were promotional bets that were essentially impossible to lose.

One example: DraftKings and FanDuel allowed a wager on whether the Celtics would score a single point in their games at +100 odds, meaning anyone who placed the $50 maximum wager got the wager back plus $50 in winnings.


GeoComply also said it prevented more than 5,000 transactions “from devices or accounts with a known history of fraud.”

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which is charged with oversight of sports betting and traditional gaming in the state, held a pair of adjudicatory hearings on the state’s first sports betting infractions.

Both Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park Casino allowed bets on Massachusetts college teams last month. Unless they are playing in a tournament, bets are not allowed on the in-state colleges.

After a public hearing during which the operators explained what went wrong and what safeguards have been put in place to avoid a repeat, the commissioners will deliberate in private before issuing a written ruling on what penalties, if any, will be imposed.

Michael Silverman can be reached at