Betting platforms split on temp licenses, gaming commission learns

To hear the bookies tell it, the Legislature’s new sports betting law is already causing concerns.

“Bally’s does not recommend the implementation of a temporary license scheme for all operator applicants only to have some shutdown post launch,” Justin Smith, legal counsel for Bally’s Interactive North America, told the gaming commission Thursday.

Gaming Commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein, during a roundtable with betting platforms, said the commission was meeting to take input on the new state law legalizing sports wagering.

Unfortunately, she said, the law includes a rule that allows just seven long term mobile betting licenses but doesn’t set a limit on how many temporary licenses may be applied for or issued.

She described the situation as an “inadvertent development” whereby some betting platforms may find themselves licensed temporarily when the law eventually goes into effect, but unable to secure one of the seven long term licenses in the long run.

Lawyers for some of the various betting platforms seemed to agree this was problematic, noting that some bets are placed months in advance and that a platform may be unlicensed by that time.

“From an operator’s perspective, this will be difficult to manage where, one, customers have already placed wagers on future games, which are usually placed months in advance, and two, where operators will have to manage payments and account balance withdraws if in fact they are required to shut down,” Smith said.

A lawyer for Boston based DraftKings seemed to disagree, saying temporary licenses can be helpful, giving every betting platform an “equal shake” when it came time to capture part of the market, and that they were in favor of those licenses being handed out.

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

“I noted your answer about the temporary licensing issue,” Judd-Stein told Cipolla. “Now we’re wrestling with how to make sure that when we stand up this industry it meets the standards that we know the legislature expects of Massachusetts gaming and also of our work.”

She asked Cipolla what he would do to protect his customers, DraftKings should not make the cut when it comes time to hand out full licenses.

“Clear communication from the very beginning, that everyone who is operating has not been selected,” he told her. “I think you would need to build in those safeguards and make clear to the public and to our customers that while these companies are operating there is no guarantee these companies will be participating long term.”

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