The decision means Bay State bettors who want to wager on the Kentucky Derby or other horse races must travel to one of the state’s simulcast facilities or hop on a separate advance deposit wagering app.
With the Run for the Roses right around the corner, Bay State regulators spent time Thursday hashing out some horse-racing rules for online sports betting sites.
Among other things, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) confirmed that horse racing may not be included in the regulator’s legal sports betting catalog.
The decision means Bay State bettors who want to wager on the Kentucky Derby or other horse races must travel to one of the state’s simulcast facilities or hop on a separate advance deposit wagering app, such as TwinSpires or the recently launched DK Horse.
Commissioners issued their ruling after questions were raised about whether horse racing at sportsbooks would be allowed. That is because the Massachusetts sports betting law allows the regulator a fair amount of leeway to determine what types of wagers can be accepted, including on “other” events.
However, the commission was reminded it already has a regulation on the books that prohibits sports wagering operators from accepting action on greyhound or horse races. The regulator was also reminded of other Massachusetts and federal laws that specifically govern horse and greyhound racing and that must be followed.
“So, at a minimum, it would likely not be as simple as just including racing in the sports wagering catalog if the commission were so inclined to do so,” said the MGC’s general counsel, Todd Grossman, during Thursday’s meeting.
The commission voted 5-0 to keep horse racing off the sports-betting menu. Doing so will put at ease several interested parties, such as the New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which had written to the commission with concerns. For instance, there were worries about the revenue stream that pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing provides to the industry, as fixed-odds betting offered by online sportsbooks would not be guaranteed to generate the same.
“This was an easy one today,” Commissioner Bradford Hill remarked before the vote.
Nevertheless, the MGC was willing to be flexible with another horse racing-related request from FanDuel. The online gaming company requested “access points” to its horse-racing app, which is already approved as an advance deposit wagering vendor in the state, within its recently launched online sportsbook.
While the ADW system for horse racing is to remain separate from the sports-betting system, FanDuel asked to allow users that log into the sportsbook to access the racebook without having to log in again. According to FanDuel, 11 states already allow this.
“It has introduced new users to advance deposit wagering,” a memo to commissioners noted. “As the Commission learned during the ramp-up to sports wagering, many people in Massachusetts were not aware that we already had on-line wagering on horseracing.”
Although commissioners had questions about the ties between FanDuel Sportsbook and FanDuel Racing, they ultimately voted 5-0 in favor of permitting the access points. As a result, other operators offering pari-mutuel wagering on horse races in Massachusetts may request similar treatment.
The interest in easier access to horse-race wagering comes as the well-known Kentucky Derby is a little over a month away. Sportsbook operators have also signaled more interest in general in incorporating horse racing into their businesses, as it offers another way to acquire new customers and keep current bettors betting.
FanDuel’s chief competitor, DraftKings, announced on Wednesday that its new horse-racing app, DK Horse, is now available in 12 states, including Massachusetts. DraftKings plans to increase the number of markets in which DK Horse is available in the run-up to the Derby.
The MGC had a few other matters to deal with during Thursday’s meeting, including another that may have a horse-racing connection in the future. Indeed, the commission began digging into an application by one of the two simulcast facilities, Raynham Park, for a sports-betting license.
Raynham Park has partnered with Caesars Sportsbook to run its future retail-wagering operation, and the commission heard Thursday that the partnership could expand to pari-mutuel wagering someday. The Caesars Racebook app is already available in Massachusetts.
PointsBet told Covers back in February that they decided to withdraw “to emphasize our continued focus on our 14 live states of the US (plus Ontario) and how we can best optimize those markets which provide an immense TAM for us to go after.” https://t.co/8wKEgKFA1j
— Geoff Zochodne (@GeoffZochodne) March 30, 2023
The MGC also approved house rules for the microbetting-focused sportsbook Betr, which has yet to launch in Massachusetts. However, before that approval, the MGC also received an update about Jake Paul, one of the founders of Betr.
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges earlier this month against Paul and other celebrities for allegedly illegally touting crypto asset securities without disclosing they were paid for doing so and how much. Paul agreed to pay approximately $100,000 in disgorgement, interest, and penalties to settle the charges without admitting or denying the allegations, which did not involve Betr.
Lastly, the MGC approved PointsBet’s application to withdraw its application for a mobile sports betting license. The bookmaker indicated in February that it was scrapping its Massachusetts bid, citing a desire to focus on its existing geographic footprint.
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Horse racing will be suspended at Churchill Downs and moved to a different Kentucky racetrack as federal and state regulators continue to investigate the deaths
Churchill Downs announced Friday it will move the remainder of its spring meet to Ellis Park following the death of 12 horses at the home of the Kentucky Derby
After a spate of horse deaths in the past five weeks and under pressure from federal regulators, Churchill Downs will move its current spring-summer racing meet