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Regulators take key step towards making legal sports betting a reality in Massachusetts

Gaming regulators took one of the most important, if fairly uninteresting, steps Monday morning towards making legal sports betting a reality in Massachusetts with the approval of two independent laboratories to test sports betting devices and platforms.

As an initial step in what is expected to be a months-long process of rolling out legal sports wagering, the Gaming Commission earlier this month approved an emergency regulation that allows it to authorize entities already certified as independent testing laboratories for casino gaming devices to provide testing of sports wagering devices in Massachusetts as well. Technical testing of sports wagering platforms is critical to ensuring that betting operators stick to the requirements of the Bay State’s law, like properly rejecting bets that someone outside the border of Massachusetts tries to place.

“Within the industry, best practices dictate that there needs to be sort of a technical assurance component before things go live. Particularly in the mobile operations, the technical aspect of sports wagering is enormous. So there are certain things that need to happen to ensure the integrity of those operations, which is core to our function as regulators,” Executive Director Karen Wells explained to commissioners last week.

As it works to implement the law that Gov. Charlie Baker signed in early August, the Gaming Commission is poised to require that companies that apply for a sports betting license contract with a commission-approved independent testing lab to confirm that its offerings comply with state law and regulations before being allowed to launch operations. That’s why approving sports betting testing labs was an early order of business for the commission.

On Monday, the commission unanimously approved petitions from the two labs that are already commission-certified for other gaming devices -- Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) and BMM Testlabs (BMM) -- to allow them to similarly inspect sports betting platforms. The vote was uneventful and commissioners did not have questions for the staffer who explained the petitions.

GLI said that it has done similar work around sports betting in Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia and the District of Colombia, and said that its services include “on-site geolocation evaluations prior to market go live dates to ensure wagers are only taking place in warranted areas.”

BMM said it is “licensed, registered, contracted, or otherwise recognized” in 30 states including Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

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