Mass. Gaming Commission Approves Extensive Gambling Competition Catalog – NBC Boston

Time to brush up on biathlon, brush up on the rules of rugby, and delve into pro darts — the Massachusetts Gaming Commission this week approved these events and dozens more as part of its catalog of sports and events that adults can place bets on at the beginning of next week.

However, the catalog contains more than just sports games. Commissioners approved for betting on things like professional league drafts, the Super Bowl MVP award, competitive dining events, and events like the Academy Awards. And it doesn’t include all the sports that the betting companies asked to place bets on. Commissioners voted to exclude, at least for the first in-person launch next week, betting on chess, cornhole, esports, jai alai and much of the Olympics.

“We have the chance to come back [to the list]. We know that we will be regularly asked about various events. This is the dynamic, as said, a dynamic list. We are lucky that it is robust. I think it’s competitive with the illegal market,” said chair Cathy Judd-Stein Tuesday as the committee voted 5-0 to approve the catalog.

The list includes athletics, Australian rules football, badminton, baseball/softball, basketball, biathlon, billiards, bowling, bowls, bull riding/rodeo, boxing, cricket, cycling, darts, disc, floorball, soccer, futsal, golf, handball, hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse, mixed martial arts, racing, netball, pesapallo, rowing, rugby league, rugby union, sailing, snooker, soccer, beach soccer, special events, swimming, table tennis, tennis, volleyball and water polo. Each category has specific leagues or governing bodies sanctioned for betting.

The catalog was compiled on the basis of a joint request from the three facilities authorized to offer in-person betting as of Tuesday, Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor in Everett. The committee staff reviewed that list and crossed out a few of the requested events before submitting it to the committee for approval.

Jai alai was taken off the list because the sanctioned league has a betting exclusivity agreement with a company that does not operate in Massachusetts. Cornhole was excluded because the professional league in question had a recent fraud scandal. And while it has been a source of contention among the commissioners, the list does not include Olympic events whose final outcome is based primarily on the judgment of a judge or jury.

Betting companies can petition the Gaming Commission for additions to the catalog and commissioners said this week they want operators to get back to them with more information on some events, particularly the Olympics, before approving them. That reconsideration could happen before mobile betting kicks off in March.

One of the main points of contention among commissioners this week was whether betting on subjective prizes, such as the Super Bowl MVP, was allowed. That award is not based solely on the outcome of a match, but on a mix of fan and media votes.

Commissioner Eileen O’Brien was most outspoken in her opposition to allowing betting on “awards not based on achievement that can be measured statistically, including, for example, Emmy Awards and Academy Awards,” as well as the Super Bowl MVP. At one point she suggested that the committee remove it from the catalog, but her motion failed with only herself in support.

Commissioner Brad Hill was most outspoken in his belief that people should be able to bet on the Super Bowl MVP, which Sports Wagering Director Bruce Band said is “a very, very, very popular bet during the Super Bowl. “
“The Super Bowl MVP is like one of the biggest bets you’re going to see, and let’s be honest about that,” Hill said. He added, “If I was a gambler and couldn’t bet on that, I’d take it to New Hampshire where I could. I’d take it to Rhode Island where I could. And I think our citizens deserve the right to to be able to bet on that particular bet, on that issue.”

While the Gaming Commission is not affiliated with sports, it has determined that they can allow betting on something like the Academy Awards – which recognize achievement in the film industry – because “under the legal definition there is discretion as to the type of sporting events there is, Judd Stein said.

The state’s betting law defines “sporting event” or “sporting event” as “a professional sporting or athletic event, collegiate sporting or track and field event, collegiate tournament, motorcycle racing event, electronic sporting event or other event approved by the commission under this section “excluding high school and youth sports or athletic events, and non-tournament sports events, including a school in Massachusetts.

With the catalog of events available for betting, the Gaming Commission still has a few things to finalize before legal gambling can begin here next week.

The Thursday morning committee meeting agenda includes a discussion of house rules for the three personal operators going live next week. No company can take bets unless its house rules have been approved by the Gaming Commission.

The Betting Act requires that the house rules “specify the amounts to be paid on winning bets and the effect of changes in the schedule of sporting events”. The rules must be accessible to all users and the Gaming Commission is authorized to fine any operator who violates its house rules.

The vote on the house rules may not take place until Friday afternoon. The Gaming Commission plans to meet on Friday at 1 p.m. and the agenda includes a vote on the house rules and a vote to approve the certificates of operations that each licensee needs to place bets.

On Monday, the commission and the three personal operators are set to conduct a “soft launch” of sports betting similar to the way the commission opened the state’s casinos and slots parlour. One commissioner will visit each of the facilities to observe how they handle taking bets from staff and invitees.

Personal betting will be available to the public the next day at 10am on Tuesday 31st January.

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