In a recent roundtable discussion with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the state’s sportsbook operators voiced their concerns over proposed data privacy regulations.
If passed in their current form, the state’s new regulations would be among the strictest of their kind in the U.S.
The proposed rules, which must be completed for implementation by late November, would largely stop Massachusetts online sportsbooks from sharing personal user information with third parties.
This has led to significant pushback from the industry, with many operators requesting more time and clarity to comply. Some operators even pointed out that similar legislation in other gambling markets has taken years to complete.
However, commissioner Eileen O’Brien confirmed that the MGC will be listening, and that there is time to make changes.
“It may be that this reg is going to have to come back up several times in front of us, a series of minor tweaks,” she said.
Extraordinarily Difficult to Implement
One of the primary concerns raised by operators is the proposed “opt-in” system for sharing user data.
Under the current regulations, bettors would need to actively choose to allow operators to share or use their information beyond what is necessary for business operations.
David Prestwood, representing Boston-based DraftKings, said operators would be in favor of an “opt-out” system instead.
“Every individual customer could have its own menu of uses for its data and that would be extraordinarily difficult to implement,” Prestwood said.
“It makes it practically infeasible to conduct a lot of reasonable business practices, like marketing, because they rely on vendors.”
Opt Out and Responsible Gambling
However, Jared Rinehimer, from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, countered the sportsbooks argument by emphasizing that the Commission feels informed consent is a priority.
Sports betting operators then bought in Michael Wohl, a Canadian psychology professor specializing in gambling disorders, to offer a counterpoint.
He expressed concerns that the “opt-in” system might compromise responsible gambling measures. He said it could result in ineffective and biased data for detection of problem patterns, as many problematic players might choose not to share their information with third-party monitoring services.
The proposed regulations also pose challenges in terms of data sharing.
The same opt-outs that could affect problem gambling detection and prevention will also cause problems for operators working with marketing and sports betting data firms.
Timelines Moving Forward
Another significant point of contention is the time line for implementing these regulations. While the rules were approved in June with a deadline set for November 17th, operators have expressed doubts about the feasibility of this time line. They argue that the five-month window is insufficient, especially given the unique challenges posed by the Massachusetts regulations.
Alex Ursa from Betr highlighted that in Europe, similar regulations took up to two years to implement.
Despite potentially unwilling to compromise on some issues, the MGC did show a willingness overall to work with operators. The commission has requested operators to provide a realistic time line for implementing the rules and to identify any waivers they might need in the meantime.
The MGC also held a further meeting on Thursday in which they discussed their upcoming rules changes for betting company logo displays in sports stadiums.
This could prove problematic for Massachusetts retail sportsbooks. DraftKings specifically requested extra time to prepare for the change, saying it could cost them millions to implement.
Massachusetts sportsbooks take total wagers of around $300 million a month from state bettors. Since legalizing in March this year, the state has made more than $50 million in taxes from operators.