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Sports betting in Massachusetts on track to start in two weeks

BOSTON — Having met on most working days since the start of December, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission regulators are nearing the end of their initial review of sports betting applications and preparing for the start of public in-person betting, planned for Jan. 31.

Tuesday saw the Gaming Commission active on both fronts with a public hearing on regulations that all operators, including the casinos and slots parlor that are planning to offer betting later this month, will have to abide by followed by a full commission meeting to finish up the review of the six applications the commission got for mobile sports betting licenses that will not be tied to an existing casino or slots parlor. While in-person betting is expected to start at the end of this month, the commission has slated mobile betting for an “early March” start.

Wednesday will be a similar day for the commission -- a 9 a.m. meeting is planned for commissioners to vote to finalize the regulations that got a hearing, but no public input, Tuesday followed by a 2 p.m. meeting for the regulators to begin making licensing decisions about the six untethered applications. Those decisions could be finalized by the end of the week.

“After today, we will begin our overall determination of the applicants as a whole and that will begin starting late tomorrow afternoon into the next day and ending, likely ending, on Friday,” Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said Tuesday morning.

Gaming Commission meeting materials suggest that an additional meeting might be in the cards for Friday morning -- a session at which commissioners could be asked to approve the house rules and floor plans for the so-called Category 1 operators that will be the first to take bets (Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor in Everett). Those facilities could be up for votes on their certificates of operation at a meeting that could be held Jan. 25, according to the commission documents.

Late last month, the commission agreed that it would hold a “soft launch” of in-person betting at each facility on Jan. 30 to allow its regulators to observe how they handle taking bets from staff and invited guests. In-person betting would become available to the public the following day, Tuesday, Jan. 31.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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