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Massachusetts makes history with retail sports betting launch

1 February 2023

There were Massachusetts dignitaries and celebrities, but the real stars of yesterday’s retail sports betting launch in Massachusetts were the sports bettors of the Bay State as Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino all began taking sports wagers just in time for the Super Bowl on 12 February.

Mobile sports betting is expected to launch by the time the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament known as March Madness tips off next month with 11 different operators getting ready to make their apps available within state lines.

Yesterday; however, all eyes were on the three casinos, and while the Casino City Times staff attended two-of-the-three openings, it was only fitting that all five members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission – Chair Cathy Judd-Stein and Commissioners Eileen O’Brien, Bradford R. Hill, Nakisha Skinner and Jordan Maynard – visited each casino at various points throughout the day starting in the western part of the state.

After all, it’s the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that helped bring retail sports betting into fruition following Speaker of the House of Representatives Ron Mariano’s tweet on 1 August 2022 that announced the legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts.

“It’s been a long time coming, in a sense, but for us implementing it, it’s been a quick six months,” Judd-Stein told Casino City during her visit to Plainridge Park Casino on Tuesday afternoon. “When the Bill came to us, gone to the Governor’s desk and he signed it, it was August 1. Since then, the Gaming Commission has been working hard to meet the deadline for today for the retail launch. We’re super pleased with the cooperation on behalf of the three properties and how they presented their application for the retail side.”

Encore Boston Harbor

Lowell resident Claudia Gabriel heard her name called as the first person to take a spot at one of the WynnBet Sports Kiosks, as Encore Boston Harbor chose 32 lucky guests through a drawing ahead of time to place the historic bets at 10 a.m.

“This is like my home casino,” Gabriel told Casino City. “It was very exciting. It was so, so exciting, just to be part of history. I’ve never felt anything like it. It’s so exciting. It’s unbelievable.”

Gabriel placed a $50 bet for the Bruins to bring home the Stanley Cup and $50 for the Eagles, for her cousin Freddie, to win the Super Bowl.

“I like the home teams,” said Gabriel. “I have not bet on them, but I do like sports, so this may be something new for me.”

Following the lucky guests’ bets, a host of Massachusetts dignitaries and hometown sports legends took to the betting windows at the WynnBet Sportsbook. Representative Aaron Micheltiz, Representative Jerald Parisella, Speaker Ronald Mariano, former Harvard hockey player and four-time Olympian Angela Ruggiero, former Red Sox World Series champion Johnny Damon, former Boston Celtics NBA champion Cedric Maxwell, former New England Patriots Super Bowl champions Matt Light and Ty Law, and former Boston Bruins NHL champion Shawn Thornton all placed their sports wagers.

While most of the politicians and athletes bet $50 or $100 on their teams of choice, Law upped the stakes as he said “Y’all being cheap,” following his $1,000 wager on the Celtics to win the NBA title.

When asked how the day was going following the first bets on both the kiosks and the windows, President of Encore Boston Jenny Holaday told Casino City, “Fantastic! Awesome! Wonderful.”

Garbriel wasn’t the only local to be excited about sports betting as Belmont resident Jason Alch arrived at Encore Boston Harbor at 7 a.m. and was first in line at the live-dealer betting windows at the WynnBet Sportsbook, which didn't open until 10 a.m. He planned to bet on the Celtics to win the NBA Finals, and the Super Bowl.

"I love coming here and now with sports betting it's going to even better,” Alch told Casino City. “Been waiting for this day a long time. I love all of the Boston sports teams, so to be able to come into this amazing casino and place a sports bet, it's something I never thought we'd see, but here it is. It's exciting."

The festivities continued throughout the day and culminated in the evening when former New England Patriots Super Bowl champion and WynnBet brand ambassador Julian Edelman strolled up to the windows at the WynnBet Sportsbook with a suitcase handcuffed to his wrist with $11,000 in cash that he put down on the Boston Celtics to win the NBA crown. He was joined by former Celtics player, Eddie House, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Ronald Mariano and Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria.

After Edelman, who not-so-coincidentally wore No. 11 for the Patriots, placed his bet he said, "It's electric in here right now, this is awesome. It's great to be part of it and have some skin in the game. The people in this area love this kind of stuff."

Encore Boston Harbor features the WynnBet Sportsbook with 70 televisions, including a 10-foot high and 123-foot -long video wall, and 10 betting windows. Additionally, the resort houses 120 kiosks strategically placed throughout the casino grounds, including a room of 20 in what’s known as the WynnBet Express Sportsbook located on the B1 level of the North parking garage. Sports bettors are able to drive up and park in one of the designated 49 spots for a maximum of 15 minutes while they pop into the room and place their bets. Encore also offers BYOD, also known as Bring Your Own Device, which allows bettors to create any type of sports bet on their personal mobile device. From there they can save or copy the generated bet slip QR code and upon entrance into Encore, they can scan it at any WynnBet Sports Kiosk.

MGM Springfield

Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno placed the first bet at the BetMGM Sportsbook & Lounge according to a press release. Sarno put down $50 on the Eagles to win over the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

He was followed by Boston Bruins’ hockey legend Ray Bourque, who of course placed a $100 bet on his former local team to win the Stanley Cup.

“We started over at MGM Springfield,” said Judd-Stein. “They launched the first bet at 10 a.m. Ray Bourque bet on the Bruins. It’s exciting he picked the Bruins.”

MGM Springfield features the BetMGM Sportsbook & Lounge with a 45-foot LED viewing wall and four betting windows. Additionally, the resort houses 18 sports betting kiosks conveniently located throughout the gaming area. Bettors can place sports bets at the windows Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturday 10 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. The sports betting kiosks are open 24/7. BetMGM is not currently offering a build your bet ahead of time option.

Plainridge Park Casino

The festivities kicked off much later in the day at the Plainville casino, but for good reason.

“They [Plainridge Park Casino] held their launch until 1 o’clock so we (the Massachusetts Gaming Commission) could be here, which was very generous of them,” said Judd-Stein.

Following a big thank you from North Grounsell, Vice President and General Manager of Plainridge Park Casino, the sports wagering got underway shortly after 1 p.m.

Two-time New England Patriot Super Bowl champion Rob Ninkovich kicked off the sports betting, and he too placed a bet of $50 on the hometown Bruins to win the Cup.

“It’s just something that Massachusetts, as a resident, we haven’t had,” said Ninkovich, who’s still a local around the Plainville area. “To be able to just come here, place a bet on sports, basically anything, it’s pretty cool. It’s fun.”

Other locals agreed with Ninkovich too.

“Big, big sports guy,” said bettor Jason Correia. “I’ve been waiting years for this to pass in Massachusetts. I live 15 minutes down the road… so I’m supporting the cause of Massachusetts legal gambling.”

Correia, like a lot of bettors, was also rooting for the home teams.

“My first Boston bet was Celtics and Bruins to win it all, combined that for a parlay,” said Correia.

Plainridge Park Casino features the Barstool Sportsbook with 12 TV screens, five betting windows. Additionally, the resort houses 20 sports betting kiosks throughout the casino floor. Bettors can place sports bets at the windows Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Bettors can also build their bets in advance on their mobile devices with Barstool Sportsbook’s Bet Builder and then scan a QR code at the windows or kiosks upon entering Plainridge Park Casino.

“We have a lot of energy in this place today,” said Jeff Morris VP, Public Affairs and Government Relations at Penn National Gaming. Penn is scheduled to complete its acquisition of Barstool Sports next month, making the media company and Barstool Sportsbook full subsidiaries of Penn.

“We are so happy to have the Barstool Sportsbook here in the Plainridge Park Casino,” said Morris. “We’re incredibly excited. We’re really appreciative of all the hard work by the legislature and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to get to today.”

Visitors of the Barstool Sportsbook shouldn’t get too comfortable though as there’s already a new one in the works.

“The book we’re in right now is our temporary sportsbook,” said Morris. “Sometime, later this summer, later this year, we’ll be opening our full Barstools Sportsbook in the center and it will have all the bells and whistles, and the customers are going to love it.”

All in all, it appears the first day of legal retail sports betting went off without a hitch.

“Our goal today was to go each property to see the activities and be able to look at each sportsbook and to congratulate each team,” said Judd-Stein. “They’ve been very, very productive partners with us and collaborators on so many fronts in the casino gaming world, and now today we have a new industry that they’re participating in and we have full faith that they’ll continue to be great, productive partners… And, we want everyone to enjoy and have fun, and be very responsible with their play.”
Massachusetts makes history with retail sports betting launch is republished from
Jarrod LeBlanc

Jarrod serves as Casino City's associate editor and helps produce and edit all of our weekly newsletters, as well as the GPWA Times Magazine. He has more than six years of experience as a writer and editor and enjoys playing fantasy sports, but spends most of his time with his family, running and coaching youth sports. Contact Jarrod at and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityJL.
Jarrod LeBlanc
Jarrod serves as Casino City's associate editor and helps produce and edit all of our weekly newsletters, as well as the GPWA Times Magazine. He has more than six years of experience as a writer and editor and enjoys playing fantasy sports, but spends most of his time with his family, running and coaching youth sports. Contact Jarrod at and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityJL.