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Massachusetts Sports Betting: Q&A With MGC Interim Chair Jordan Maynard

Bill Speros for Bookies.com

Bill Speros  | 7 mins

Massachusetts Sports Betting: Q&A With MGC Interim Chair Jordan Maynard

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Legal sports betting launched a year ago in Massachusetts. The state’s betting market has shattered expectations in handle and tax revenue. Yet, there are still multiple unused licenses. Several sports books await either hearings or findings for alleged violations of state law and regulations. And multiple key members have exited the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. 

Kentucky native Jordan Maynard, 35, is now the interim head of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. He replaces Cathy Judd-Stein, who retired last month. In addition to Judd-Stein, the MGC’s executive director and multiple key staffers all left the Commission for various reasons in the past year. 

Still, the betting continues. In March, Massachusetts’ seven active online books and the state’s three retail casino-based operations raked in more than $654.9 million in the combined handle. That was a record total handle for the Commonwealth. The public fared well riding the favorites in the NCAA Tournament given the books’ combined hold of 7.31%. Still, that left $46.2 million in taxable gaming revenue and a $9.2 million tax haul for the state. 

Big Numbers In The Commonwealth 

The state has collected more than $127.7 in revenue since online sports betting began on March 10, 2023, and retail betting began on January 31 of that year. Initial estimates had the state taking in between $60-$70 million in revenue during its first year of taking legal wagers. 

DraftKings continues to dominate in its home state. In March, the book’s handle was $323 million, or 53.4% of the state’s total online and retail handle. Overall since launch, DK has settled $3.375 billion worth of wagers in Massachusetts. That equals 47.4% of the overall online and retail betting handle of roughly $6.811 billion.  

With that as a framework, bookies.com spoke exclusively with Maynard about his new role at the MGC, what he sees as the top challenges and opportunities facing the Commission, and his role as a key player in the Bay State regulatory space. 

Some of the questions and answers have been edited for brevity.

Q&A With MGC Interim Chair Jordan Maynard 

Massachusetts Sports Betting: Q&A With MGC Interim Chair Jordan Maynard 1

Bookies.com: The MGC’s recent annual report boasted some solid numbers. Do you view the first year of sports betting as a success?

Maynard: “What we were able to accomplish in the last year, and when I say we, I use a royal we. I'm talking about the regulators; I'm talking about the operators. I'm talking about everyone in the Commonwealth, most importantly the patron. I think we have managed; we can call this a success up to this point. Now, what do I mean by that? This is still new. We are a year. We always have room for improvement. We always have room to make ourselves better. But up to this point, first-year launch, I don't know, you tell me. You monitor all these different jurisdictions. I think we're probably the most successful year-launch jurisdiction in the country. That's my opinion.”

Bookies.Com: How does the Commission define “success?” What are the metrics used? 

Maynard: “I start everything with a framework: How can we, and it comes straight from the statute, how can we maximize benefits and minimize the harms on any decision that we make at the gaming commission? That seems like a simple framework. It's actually very complex when you start to administer all the different work that we do, which is OK, issue by issue. How do we make sure that we're balancing the interest here of making sure that there is a legal market, a robust legal market, versus how are we protecting consumers? How are we protecting patrons? How are we in ensuring that the revenue that goes to the commonwealth is what we expected it to be? Or exceeding expectations. But it always starts with let's maximize the benefit. Let's minimize the harm. And if we strike that balance, that is - to this one commissioner - a success.”

Bookies.Com: What do you feel the operators have gotten right and where do you feel they need to improve?

Maynard: “The operators have been extremely nimble with us. They have been able to make changes. They've been able to meet with us when we need to. They have been really, really good about ensuring that they've been partners with the MGC. We don't always get along. We don't always see eye to eye, but that happens in any relationship. Business, government, otherwise. We, as an entire industry, and I won't put it just on the operator, I'll put it on everybody, have to make sure that we are thinking about those gamblers who really have a problem. And our robust research and responsible gaming group that has put over 70 pieces of research out since the beginning of the MGC has 15 pieces of work in the tank right now.”

Bookies.com: A recent Wall Street Journal essay criticized “responsible gaming” initiatives as being designed to fail. Does the MGC feel the same way?

Maynard: “We have to ensure that we're learning as much as we can about where the deficiencies are. And then to your point, you just made balancing what the reaction is to those deficiencies. So I would say that's across the board. I wouldn't put any particular negative to the operators at all. I just think altogether as an industry, we have to protect those that are most vulnerable. And then you look at the underage sports wagering in the Commonwealth initiative we just launched with the NCAA, the Attorney General's office, and every major sports team in the Boston area. We've come out and said, we want to educate young people on how to be responsible when they are able to gamble. We want to educate on the pitfalls, and we want to make sure that people know what the risks are when they wager.”

Massachusetts Sports Betting: Q&A With MGC Interim Chair Jordan Maynard 2

Bookies.com: The illegal space has never been more accessible. What has the Commission done when it comes to illegal and offshore books? And what can it do?

Maynard: “Listen, this is all about balance. The Commission has engaged with the Massachusetts Attorney General's office with the hopes of ensuring that any illegal bookmaking that's going on in the Commonwealth is not happening, and that's within the state, and we put some money behind it to fund some staffing. We've also engaged with them in public meetings. We put together a letter following other jurisdictions to U.S. Attorney General (Merrick) Garland to say, 'Hey, we're concerned about illegal bookmakers that are outside the state’s border, not just within the state border.' And we've signaled that in meeting upon meeting upon meeting. But that is out of our control  . . . But I’ve got to worry about our house, not about the house down the street. But what I mean by that is we directly touch the stuff we can touch, and we do it every day. Now we've alerted the neighborhood that there are other problems, but it can't mean that we can't take the eye off our own house and our own ball. We have to make sure that the legal space is the most attractive and safe space. That means the patrons' money is safe, and they’re getting access to research and responsible gaming tools. All sorts of reasons why it's better to do it within the state. We're also getting a lot of data from it. We don't get data from a legal booking. I think it's well taken and something that I've been chewing on for almost two years now”

Bookies: Massachusetts still has several unused retail and online licenses. (Bally’s plans to launch in the state sometime this spring). Is the Commission concerned about that?

Maynard: “The way I view our role, and this is speaking from one Commissioner, is that we don't create these businesses. What we do is foster an environment where these businesses can operate. We attempt to treat everyone fairly here. We will engage with anyone who engages with us. My rule has been since I've been a commissioner, not even the interim chair position if somebody wants to meet with us, speak with us, we meet with them, we speak with them.”

Bookies: There’s a widespread perception among many, myself included, that the Commission could be more efficient in its deliberations and decision-making. Could the Commission move faster on some issues? Or is this just the price of watching the sausage being made?

Maynard: “We make decisions by making motions, taking votes, and we have to do it all in the public. When I go to places, conferences, or other jurisdictions, and they say, ‘We feel like we know you.’ And it's because they get to see our work in public. The nature of public work and the nature of being in public causes the decisions to be deliberative. I would say they're deliberative. I don't think they're necessarily slow. I've been in state government for a few years now, and I can tell you that when you're trying to, the emphasis is always let's get it right or let's be able to pivot to get it, not let's do it fast.”

About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.