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Massachusetts Gaming Commission to amend sportsbook affiliate ban

Publish Date: 02/25/2023
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) will hold votes to amend gambling laws prohibiting cost-per-acquisition (CPA) agreements on March 23, 2023, potentially allowing sportsbook affiliates in the state.

Massachusetts’ gambling regulations ban agreements or collaborations between gambling operators and third parties, primarily when returns depend on bet outcome and client volume.

While these restrictions aim to prevent wager manipulation, they also apply to marketing, advertising and branding affiliations — a common practice in the sportsbook industry. The law affects famous sportsbook programs from DraftKings, FanDuel, BetStars and many others.

Massachusetts regulators agreed to meet with sportsbook representatives to discuss the matter on Sunday, February 26. While the Commission did not specify what inspired their change in stance, analysts speculate that the expected rise in sportsbook affiliate programs before March Madness may have influenced the decision.

In the past month, the MGC has been preparing extensively for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament and its expected rise in sportsbook popularity. Regulators have approved numerous sportsbook apps in preparation, including Caesars, WynnBet and DraftKings.

Affiliate benefits

Legalizing sportsbook affiliates will ease restrictions on many sports gambling operators eyeing the March Madness launch. Previously, sportsbooks in the Massachusetts area would suspend affiliate programs and operations to function under the state’s regulations.

These restrictions significantly limited the scope of sportsbook operations in the state. Sportsbooks greatly depend on affiliations, and their recently-launched sportsbook application will compete with many other approved applications in the same period.

Repealing the ban on affiliate programs will benefit many sportsbook programs ahead of the upcoming NCAA Tournament. However, the MGC remains wary of potential violations in the present and future.

Last week, the Commission faced its first violations of the season when three operators bet on Massachusetts-based collegiate sports.

Commission member Jordan Maynard also noted in the case that the MGC should set “goalposts” early on to better reinforce laws during the March Madness high tide.

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