Encore Boston Harbor, Massachusetts

Massachusetts has launched a voluntary self-exclusion program for sports betting ahead of the Bay State’s legalised ecosystem going live tomorrow (January 31, 2023).

This will see Wynn ResortsEncore Boston Harbor, MGM Resorts International’s MGM Springfield and PENN Entertainment’s Plainridge Park Casino go live with retail wagering, with the state regulator targeting March for a digital debut.

The establishment of the VSE list represents an expansion of options available within the region, which are designed “to help people to control their gambling”.

Since the first casino in Massachusetts opened in 2015, more than 1,700 people have enrolled in a VSE program for casino gaming. Currently, 1,329 are signed-up. 

“The VSE programs are designed to allow those who want to regain control a means to restrict their access to gambling for a predetermined amount of time,” the regulator noted. 

“With the introduction of sports wagering, individuals will have the option to self-exclude from casino gaming floors, retail and digital sportsbooks, or both forms of gambling.”

Individuals interested in excluding themselves just from retail sportsbook locations or mobile/online sports wagering app are able to avail themselves of this option over the phone, online, or in-person at a GameSense Info Centers at each gaming venue. 

Those currently on the casino VSE list will remain so and will continue to be excluded from the casino floor including the soon to be opened sportsbooks.

“VSE programs are proven to be a successful tool for those who need a break from gambling to manage their own play,” said Cathy Judd-Stein, MGC Chair. 

“In light of research we have at our disposal, the MGC and our licensees are committed to offering these types of programs and a range of other resources to help gamblers in the Commonwealth.”

Furthermore, the MGC suggested that an early evaluation of the VSE program in Massachusetts found that enrollees reported significant improvements in gambling problems, mental health, and relationship quality six-months after enrolling. 

“Massachusetts has provided innovation and leadership in the realms of problem and responsible gambling,” said Marlene Warner, CEO of the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health. 

“This early and comprehensive approach to VSE continues in that tradition. We hope that anyone in need of a conversation and some help with minimising the impact gambling has on their life will consider this evidence-based program.”

Massachusetts’ new era of gambling officially gets underway at 10am tomorrow at each of the aforementioned facilities, with Encore Boston Harbor having been the first to be awarded a sports wagering operator licence after certification was confirmed in December.

Since that date, a steady stream of permits have been issued by the state regulator, with the race for supremacy in the digital domain expected to commence in due course.