SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Regulators have finished reviewing sports betting license applications from the state’s three casinos and it wasn’t exactly a smooth ride.

The Gaming Commission voted Thursday to approve its first category one license, granting Encore Boston Harbor the right to take in-person and online sports wagers through two digital partners. The state’s other two casinos, Plainridge Park and MGM Springfield saw their votes deferred for now.

MGM Springfield leadership got a bit of a wake-up call this week, after submitting their application late, the Gaming Commission didn’t love what they saw and elected to defer the final vote.

MGM Springfield submitted late and then was criticized by the commissioners for the content of their application. The major concern is the relationship between MGM Springfield’s in-person sports betting and gaming operation, and their parent company’s online arm, bet MGM, which will be the sole account handling online wagers.

The two applications are separate, with the online partnerships with each casino up for review next week. However, the meeting frequently stalled as Gaming Commissioners reviewed the in-person application and were consistently referred to the Bet MGM online application for answers to questions.

The Commission raised concerns on the nature of the relationship, “who is running the show here” and were frustrated by the reliance of one application on another. Next week, they take on the online applications, which will provide answers to MGM’s confusion.

While Encore was the lone application to be approved the same day it was considered.
It hasn’t been a smooth process, to say the least. Halfway through Encore’s successful pitch, the commission realized they had not actually completed the application. So, the commissioners voted to accept the missing material late but pushed on.

MGM Springfield almost didn’t make the review round at all. They missed the initial application deadline and had to get special permission to submit late.

MGM’s Vice President says they mixed up the applications for their online entity – Bet MGM – and their in-person application for bets at the resort-style casino. Once it was submitted, the review was bumpy.

Regulators raised concerns about the relationship between Bet MGM and MGM Springfield, the state’s other casinos are using third parties to handle their online bets. Bet MGM is owned by MGM Springfield’s Parent company. Next month, they take on the “untethered” mobile betting applications.

In the end, the commissioners determined they would be able to make a decision next week after hearing Bet MGM’s presentation but still requested the MGM Springfield team go back over their application and fill in the gaps, even if its the same answer that would be found on the Bet MGM application.

President and CEO of MGM Springfield told 22News, “I thought this was a great dialogue today. We’re thankful for the opportunity to participate and will follow up appropriately and look forward to continuing the conversation.”

One Commissioner did admit that some of this confusion was a product of how they structured the review process.