Residents in the most populous state in New England don’t yet have access to legal sports betting, but it appears two other major forms of wagering permitted in Massachusetts – daily fantasy sports and horse racing – are about to come together.
According to The Boston Globe, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved a proposal by Suffolk Downs to let daily fantasy sports operator FanDuel offer wagers on horse races to Massachusetts customers through its mobile apps.
Suffolk Downs, a former thoroughbred race track in East Boston, still offers action on simulcast races from across the country.
The temporary approval for FanDuel will provide mobile betting on horse races beginning in January. Suffolk Downs representatives presented the proposal to the gaming commission as a program to help garner new clientele in an otherwise struggling industry.
Questions Surround Massachusetts Horse Racing
Thoroughbred racing has been declining over the last few years in Massachusetts as in many other states. Suffolk Downs held its last live race over the summer, and the only kind of live horse racing scheduled for next year is harness races at Plainridge Park Casino. That was the only applicant for live racing in Massachusetts before the deadline earlier this year.
But the state’s once lively horse racing industry remains under a cloud of uncertainty, thanks in large part to the authorizations for wagering on horse races by the gaming commission that expire on Jan. 15. That date marks the end of the temporary extension state lawmakers approved last year, so more authorizations will be needed for live horse races to continue.
In short, the horse racing industry is hoping state lawmakers will approve another temporary measure until the issue can be debated and considered in the future as part of a broader discussion about legalizing and implementing sports betting, as has happened in 13 states so far. The temporary extensions are expected to be passed but those in the industry are eager to have more solid footing than having to rely on lawmakers to make short-term concessions.
FanDuel Strikes In DraftKings’ Backyard
Perhaps the most shocking development is how FanDuel struck such a deal so close to Boston — the hometown of its longtime daily fantasy sports rival and now legal sportsbook competitor, DraftKings. FanDuel is owned by Flutter Entertainment, a UK sports betting conglomerate that had previously run online services through a partnership with Suffolk Downs.
But DraftKings is the premier American DFS provider and sportsbook company which FanDuel often competes with for top billing in major U.S. markets. The company was founded in 2011, two years after FanDuel started its service, and is headquartered in Boston.