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Massachusetts Considering Ban on Bonuses Unrelated to Sports Betting

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Apr 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives to the basket past Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin (16) during the second half in game one of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Massachusetts Gaming Commission may consider a new promo prohibition modeled after an Ohio regulation
  • The commission is considering a ban on promotions and bonuses unrelated to gaming transactions
  • Ohio proposed a ban on these types of promotion and bonuses after an early Fanatics Sportsbook and Fanatics merchandise crossover

Massachusetts regulators may be looking to their faraway neighbors in Ohio for inspiration for a new sports betting regulation.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission today discussed a potential ban on promotions and bonuses unrelated to gaming transactions, one that is also currently being considered by the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC).

The OCCC is considering an amendment to their regulations banning these types of promotions after a specific Fanatics Sportsbook promotion early on in their run in the Buckeye State rubbed regulators the wrong way.

No Promo or Bonus Crossover Opportunities?

One year ago the OCCC took its first steps to ban a promotion offered from Fanatics that would give customers promotional bets to use in its Fanatics Sportsbook after purchasing merchandise or team apparel on the Fanatics website.

The particular promos were only offered to “new Fanatics Sportsbook accounts” and were limited to one per account. The promos offered to match any total purchase of eligible Fanatics merchandise for an equal bonus bet to use in the sportsbook.

An OCCC spokesperson at the time said the commission knew of the promotion and were working to take it out of the markets. It is currently not available in Ohio.

The OCCC is currently considering a change to its regulations to disallow these types of promos for any operator, but has not yet approved any formal amendments. It asked for public comment on the issue and has yet to make any official changes to its regulations.

Massachusetts regulators became aware of the potential changes and have decided to consider it for the commonwealth.

More Information Necessary in Massachusetts

Commissioner Eileen O’Brien said she has concerns over potential cross promotions or bonuses unrelated to gaming transactions being targeted at those under the age of 21 in Massachusetts.

“The younger you get exposed to this, the more risk you have later,” she said.

But despite her concerns, O’Brien said additional information is necessary before Massachusetts can move ahead with any potential changes or amendments to its sports betting regulations. O’Brien suggested bringing the state’s sports betting operators to the table to gather their comments and opinions on this particular topic.

Operators in Ohio have said without this type of cross promotion to targeted audiences, they may have to resort to broader advertising targets. This defeats the purpose of such a prohibition, O’Brien said.

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