sports betting

‘It's a Special Day': Mobile Sports Betting Goes Live in Massachusetts

You can now place a bet right on your cell phone

NBC Universal, Inc.

Online sports betting went live in Massachusetts on Friday morning, nearly six weeks after the activity was launched at the Bay State's three casinos.

Players no longer need to travel to MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor or Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville. They can wager on sports right on their cell phone.

People must be 21 or older to bet.

It's not just sports that people can bet on, either. They can put money down on everyday games, tournaments and even awards shows like the Oscars.

Six companies launched Friday morning after getting the go-ahead from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Eventually, there will be 15 companies given the green light.

BetMGM, one of the companies that launched its mobile app on Friday, called the launch of mobile sports betting in Massachusetts "an unprecedented opportunity." They are an official sports betting partner of the Boston Red Sox.

“The debut of sports betting in Massachusetts has delivered an incredible amount of excitement and activity to our retail Sportsbook at MGM Springfield,” BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said in a statement. “We’re proud to expand our best-in-class wagering experience statewide during one of sports’ biggest months of action.”

FanDuel, the official betting partner of the Boston Bruins, also issued a statement.

“Massachusetts is home to some of the most passionate fan bases across the country and we’re excited to enhance their viewing experience with the launch of the FanDuel Sportsbook app,” said Mike Raffensperger, chief commercial officer of FanDuel Group. “Bruins fans are the true embodiment of that passion and we look forward to supporting the team this season and beyond.”

Mobile sports betting is expected to be a great financial opportunity for the Massachusetts, generating as much as $60 million in revenue every year.

DraftKings Massachusetts launches

Boston-based DraftKings held a ceremony Friday morning in front of a duck boat covered in ads for the company to celebrate the launch of online sports betting in Massachusetts.

"It's a very exciting day for us," said Jason Robins, chairman and CEO of DraftKings. "I feel inspired."

"We have been waiting for this for a long time," he added. "It's not just because it's our hometown. It's also because Massachusetts is a special sports town as well."

Robins said he has "high hopes" for sports betting in Massachusetts because of the state's passion for sports. And having online betting go live just before March Madness starts is an added bonus.

"March Madness is going to be big," he said. "March Madness is one of those events, it's almost like the Super Bowl. A lot of people who really aren't even that into college basketball are going to watch March Madness, they're going to watch the Final Four. Everyone's got an office bracket, people are picking teams anyway."

Lawmakers estimate that sports betting could generate about $60 million in annual tax revenue and $70 million to $80 million in initial licensing fees, which must be renewed every five years. The law includes a 15% tax on in-person wagering and 20% tax on mobile wagering.

Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald Mariano said he is "very, very optimistic" about how much revenue online sports betting will generate. He said he placed a $100 wager on the Red Sox as soon as it was allowed on Friday morning.

"I think this is the way people are going to bet. I thought this from the very beginning," he said.

Asked what the state might spend the added revenue on, Mariano quipped, "Start with the MBTA, how about that?"

Former Boston Celtics forward and current NBC Sports Boston analyst Brian Scalabrine said he bet $100 Friday on the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup.

"It just makes sports a little bit more fun," he said of online betting. "It's a really exciting time to be able to do this right from your phone."

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 ruled that banning sports betting was unconstitutional.

Former Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill legalizing sports betting. Baker, who is not president of the NCAA, argued that residents were traveling to Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York and Connecticut to wager.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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