Betting platforms divided over temporary licenses, gambling commission learns

To hear the bookmakers tell, the new sports betting law is already a cause for concern.

“Bally’s is not recommending the implementation of a temporary licensing arrangement for all operators applying to be dormant for some time after launch,” Justin Smith, legal counsel for Bally’s Interactive North America, told the gaming commission on Thursday.

Cathy Judd-Stein, chair of the Gaming Commission, said during a roundtable meeting with betting platforms that the committee met to get input on the new state law legalizing sports betting.

Unfortunately, she said, the law includes a rule that allows only seven long-term mobile gambling licenses, but puts no limit on the number of temporary licenses that can be requested or issued.

She described the situation as an “unintended development” with some gambling platforms being temporarily licensed when the law eventually takes effect, but not being able to obtain any of the seven long-term licenses in the long run.

Attorneys for some of the various betting platforms seemed to agree that this was problematic, noting that some bets are placed months in advance and a platform may not be licensed by then.

“From an operator’s perspective, this will be difficult to manage, first where customers have already placed bets on future games, which are usually placed months in advance, and two where operators need to manage payments and withdraw the balance in the account. if it’s actually they’re obligated to shut down,” Smith said.

A Boston-based DraftKings attorney seemed to disagree, saying that temporary licenses can be helpful, giving any gambling platform an “equal shock” when it comes time to take a slice of the market. and that they were in favor of those licenses being distributed.

“Temporary licenses help make that easier,” said Chris Cipolla, senior director of legal and government affairs for DraftKings. “We believe that the temporary licensing process, and making it available, is important to maintain parity.”

“I have noted your response regarding the temporary licensing issue,” Judd-Stein told Cipolla. “Now we’re grappling with how to make sure that when we get up this industry, it meets the standards that we know the legislature expects from gaming in Massachusetts and also from our work.”

She asked Cipolla what he would do to protect his customers if DraftKings didn’t tie the knot when it came time to hand out full licenses.

“Clear communication from the start, that not everyone who is working is selected,” he told her. “I think you need to build in those safeguards and make it clear to the public and to our customers that while these companies are operating, there’s no guarantee that these companies will participate in the long term.”

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