Massachusetts Sports Betting 2021
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Legal Online Sportsbook in Massachusetts
It might not be here yet, but next year looks promising for legal online sports betting in Massachusetts. And the experts here at CaptainGambling already have a solid idea of what the first Massachusetts sportsbook may look like when it arrives.
And how do we know?
New England loves its sports, and with DraftKings already legal and present in the neighbouring states of New Hampshire and Rhode Island, online sports betting in Massachusetts can’t be far off. Given the recent speculation and how legal sports betting has played out in other New England states, we’re confident of informing you how Massachusetts online gambling will work when it arrives.
But for now, there are plenty of legal online and land-based betting avenues for Massachusetts sports betting residents, which we’ve kindly laid out for you.
Introduction to the Massachusetts Gambling Industry
Since online sports betting was given the go-ahead in the US, several states across the country have held votes and subsequently put measures in place to allow online gambling to thrive. As well as the liberal gambling havens that are New Jersey and Nevada, Indiana sportsbook betting and West Virginia online gambling are now available.
While in Massachusetts, sports betting online has not yet been legalized, residents can still enjoy some forms of legalized gambling in the Bay State. Currently, casinos, parimutuel bets on horse racing, lottery and charitable gaming are all legal and regulated by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Although online sports betting in Massachusetts isn’t legal yet, it does look to be on the very near horizon, which we’ll explain more about below. Today, some Massachusetts residents who live close to the state borders can enjoy online sports betting in neighbouring states. Residents in the north of the state can pop over to New Hampshire while those south of Boston can head to Rhode Island.
Casinos in Massachusetts
Although the amount of casinos present in Massachusetts today isn’t as extensive as the list of Indiana casinos, there are still a handful of brick-and-mortar casinos in the Bay State. Today Massachusetts has a total of 8 retail casinos spread across 7 different cities throughout the state, with more casinos set to be built. The newest and most accessible casino to visitors of the state is the Encore Boston Harbour, a 24/7 casino on the Mystic River waterfront which cost a whopping $2.6 billion to construct. The longest-standing and biggest casino brand presence in Massachusetts is the MGM Springfield, located on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River. In the smaller venues, including Plainridge Park Casino on the border of Rhode Island, pari-mutuel horse bets can be placed inside the venue. Online casinos currently aren’t legal in Massachusetts.
Horse Betting in Massachusetts
Although we’re still awaiting the arrival of the first legal Massachusetts sportsbook, pari-mutuel wagering on horse and dog races is legalized and regulated in Massachusetts and has been since 1934. Today though, there’s only one active racetrack left open in Massachusetts, Plainridge Racecourse, located near the tourist town of Providence in Rhode Island. Until 2020, the only way to wager on horse or dog racing in Mass was to go to the track or the Plainridge Park Casino. However, in 2020, online pari-mutuel wagering on races was made as an available form of online sports betting in Massachusetts. A number of high profile betting sites, including TVG and TwinSpires, have gotten in on the action, allowing residents in the Bay State to place advanced deposit wagers.
Lottery is legal in Massachusetts and is conducted and regulated by the Mass. State Lottery. Games available include draws, instants, pull tabs and charity games. Takes range from $1 each to around $20, with potential prizes ranging from $1000 to $1 million. As well as being available to buy in person from licensed retailers, tickets can be purchased online directly from the Mass. Lottery website. The Massachusetts State Lottery Commission was founded in 1971 and serves 351 locations in the Bay State. The current HQ is in Dorchester, with 5 other regional offices located elsewhere in the state. However, their regional office in Boston closed permanently in 2020.
Online Sports Betting in Massachusetts: The Current Situation
As we’ve already mentioned above, Massachusetts sports betting isn’t yet 100% legal, however, the future does look extremely bright. Given the fact that online casinos are legal and that online horse wagering is now permitted as well as wagers placed at the track, we can already see how the implementation of Massachusetts sports betting might look. Moreover, sports betting is already legal in the neighbouring states of New Hampshire and Rhode Island, with no laws preventing residents who live on the Mass side of the border from crossing over to place mobile and online wagers with sites such as DraftKings. Perhaps most significantly, the House passed an economic bill to allow sports betting with a unanimous vote of 156-3 in July 2020. This meant that the first legal online Massachusetts sportsbook looked certain to arrive by the end of 2021, however, the Senate disagreed with several elements of the proposed bill and negotiations have been ongoing since.
The Future of Online Sports Betting in Massachusetts
Despite ongoing negotiations between the House and the Senate in Massachusetts, the future does look bright for Massachusetts online sports betting. The likely arrival of legalized sports betting in the Bay State looks to be on the very near horizon, and when it arrives could look similar to the West Virginia Sportsbook landscape.
Given the fact that some of the most populous areas of Massachusetts are close to New Hampshire and Rhode Island, many Massachusetts sports betting fans are already crossing borders to place online sports wagers anyway. Therefore, many advocates of legal online sports betting in Massachusetts argue that it would be in the interest of the state to have these residents betting in their own state, therefore bringing in millions of beneficial extra revenue to the Mass. State government. Both Rhode Island and New Hampshire have legalized sports betting for Massachusetts residents, so as soon as the state border is crossed, Mass. residents can open a sports betting app on their phone, sign up and place bets legally. This means that Massachusetts is losing out on potential revenue every day, meaning it’s very much in their interest to get legal Massachusetts sports betting over the line ASAP.
History of Gambling in Massachusetts
Gambling was first legalized in Massachusetts in 1934 when a bill was passed to permit residents to place pari-mutuel wagers on horse and dog races. Residents were subsequently able to place their first legal wagers a year late in 1935 when Suffolk Downs opened for thoroughbred racing. Suffolk Downs remained Massachusetts’ flagship racing & wagering site until its closure in 2019. Today, Plainridge Racecourse is the only racetrack which remains open in the Bay State, however, parimutuel bets can now be placed online. At the same time as Suffolk Downs, Wonderland Greyhound Park & Taunton Dog Track was also opened for greyhound races and wagering. A third track joined them in 1941, however, all 3 closed when dog racing was banned altogether in the state in 2009, with the introduction of the Massachusetts Greyhound Protection Act.
In 2011, the Expanded Gaming Act was passed in Massachusetts, allowing 3 casinos and one slot parlour to be opened. As a result, Plainridge Park Casino was opened as a slot parlour and pari-mutuel wagering venue for horse racing 4 years later in 2015. Larger casinos then followed in 2018 and 2019, with the opening of the MGM Springfield and the Encore Boston harbour. More licenses have since been permitted, with a further two casinos opening and as many as 3 in the pipeline.
Prior to the Expanded Gaming Act and the subsequent opening of Massachusetts’ first brick and mortar casinos, casino cruises were popular in the Bay State. The first “cruises to nowhere” took place in the late ‘90s, mostly sailing out of Gloucester. The cruise ships contained casinos on board and sailed passengers out into federal waters, where state gambling laws no longer applied. Casino cruises remained popular in Massachusetts until 2013.
How to Gamble Online Legally in Massachusetts
The first legal Massachusetts sportsbook has not yet been launched online - and it looks like we’ll have to wait a little longer. But is there a way to legally find Massachusetts sports betting? Technically, the answer to this question is no, however, there are a couple of loopholes for online gambling if you’re a Massachusetts resident. We’ve already touched on it briefly in previous sections, but while you can’t place bets online legally inside a Massachusetts sportsbook yet, you can gamble legally outside of Massachusetts if you’re a Mass Resident.
How does this work?
In the summer of 2020, both Rhode Island and New Hampshire made amendments to their online gambling legislation to allow Massachusetts sportsbook fans to register mobile sportsbook accounts and place legal bets using their Massachuesettes address. In order to place a legal mobile bet as a Mass. resident, you simply have to either cross the New Hampshire or Rhode Island border, download a mobile betting app, such as DraftKings, and register your account. You’ll then be able to place legal online bets whenever you’re over the state border. It should be noted, however, that registering an account with a Rhode Island sportsbook doesn’t mean you’ll be able to bet legally when in New Hampshire. To do this, you’ll have to register a separate account. In terms of distance from Massachusetts most populous areas, both New Hampshire and Rhode Island are around a one hour drive from downtown Boston.
Fantasy Sports in Massachusetts
While legal online sports betting has not yet reached the easter shores of Massachusetts, it is among the 43 states to have legalized fantasy sports, including those with paid entry. Any winnings made off the back of fantasy sports are subjected to taxes under state law. Daily fantasy sports (DFS) has been legal in Massachusetts since 2016 when Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill bringing it into law. Like in most states across the US, the most popular DFS sites in Massachusetts are DraftKings and Fanduel. As well as paying taxes on winnings, DFS is subjected to certain regulations in Massachusetts sportsbook rules, including the following:
- Players must be aged 21 and over
- College & amateur sports contests are excluded
- Deposits are capped at a $1000 maximum
- Entries are limited to 150 or 3%
So online Massachusetts sports betting may not quite be with us yet, but it’s certainly on the not-too-distant horizon. To summarize what we can expect when it arrives, the age limit will almost certainly be 21, DraftKings and FanDuel will quite likely be the first mobile operators and college sports will probably be excluded - at least at first. Until legalized mobile and sports betting arrives, you can still hop over to New Hampshire or Rhode Island - or alternatively, make do with online parimutuel horse wagering. You might have to wait, but there's plenty to keep you entertained in the meantime while we await the arrival of the first online Massachusetts sportsbook.
Massachusetts Gambling Guide
|Permitted / Offered?|
|Land Based Casinos||Yes|
|Pari Mutuel Horse Wagering (Land)||Yes|
|Pari Mutuel Horse Wagering (Online)||Yes|
|Sports Betting (Land)||No|
|Online Sports Betting||No|
Online Sports Betting in Massachusetts FAQ
Online sports betting was legalized at federal level in the USA in 2018. Since then, many states have gone on to legalize online sports wagering in some form. The laws and implementations of legal sports betting differ from state to state. Keep up to date with Massachusetts betting legislation here at CaptainGambling.com.
FanDuel is one of the most popular Daily Fantasy Sports and sports wagering sites in the US. They offer services in many states, depending what their fantasy sports and online sports betting laws are. Find out what you can and can’t do with FanDuel in Massachusetts by following this link to our guide here.
Legalized land-based gambling has been a staple of many US states for well over a century. In 2018 online sports wagering was legalized at federal level. At CaptainGambling.com, the experts constantly keep you updated on the state gambling and sports betting laws in Massachusetts and all other states across the country.