Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Massachusetts?
No, right now online sports betting is not legal in Massachusetts.
However, thanks to the 2018 US Supreme Court decision to strike down a law that banned sports gambling at the federal level, MA could soon be entering the world of legalized sports betting.
The reasons for being optimistic about Massachusetts changing its laws around betting on sports don’t stop at the SCOTUS decision either. Lawmakers in MA have been relaxing their attitude around gambling for a number of years.
In this guide to legal Massachusetts sports betting, we’ll take a closer look at the current laws and what’s happened in recent years to try to figure out whether or not legal sports bets are likely to become available anytime soon.
We’ll dig into the daily fantasy sports betting situation as well as give you our forecast for the best Massachusetts online sportsbooks and betting sites we think will one day be open for business in the Bay State.
Check out our state by state US legal sports betting guides for more information on gambling laws where you live.
Massachusetts Sports Betting at a Glance
Historically Massachusetts hasn’t been the most progressive state when it comes to gambling laws but a lot has changed in recent years. Here’s a quick rundown of the most important dates and events to remember:
- In 2011 Massachusetts passed the Expanded Gaming Act which allowed for land-based casinos and looser gambling laws within the state.
- Since then two large commercial casinos have opened with another on the way.
- The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has also started construction on its own tribal casino.
- None of the existing casinos have sportsbooks but this is the most likely avenue for legalized sports betting if the laws in MA change.
- Betting on daily fantasy sports (DFS) in Massachusetts was legalized in 2016.
- Massachusetts created a committee to study online gambling in 2016.
- Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby appears to support legalized online gambling in some form, having claimed that a significant amount of money is already being bet with unlicensed offshore sportsbooks.
When it comes to sports betting, Mass. has never permitted legalized sports betting, despite the fact that the Bay State is home to some of professional sports’ most iconic and successful franchises.
With so much action on legal gambling in other forms, though, it looks like Massachusetts is well-positioned to move towards legal sports betting market as well.
The Current Sports Betting Situation in Massachusetts
In case you didn’t hear, in 2018 the state of New Jersey won an appeal against a law from the 1990s called The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
This law determined that no state other than Nevada could legally offer sports betting but now that the ban is gone, each state has the option to introduce legal sports betting within its own jurisdiction.
At the moment, sports betting remains illegal in Massachusetts but with so much activity already happening in the state’s casino industry, this new option to offer sports betting seems to have come at the perfect time.
Currently, there are no bills with the Massachusetts legislature to pass sports betting legalization but that could soon change.
Big names in the Massachusetts sports and gambling world have already publicly thrown their support behind legalization. The New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Encore Boston Harbor Casino, and DraftKings (headquartered in MA) are just some of the prominent local organizations to voice their support for sports betting legalization in 2019.
And as we mentioned before, Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby has taken a largely positive stance on gambling in general. Industry experts believe Crosby’s pro-gambling attitude will extend to sports betting as well.
However, despite all of this support, with no bill currently in motion, there still seems to be quite a bit of work ahead in order to create momentum and change the current sports betting landscape in Massachusetts.
Lastly, Massachusetts does have some competition from neighboring states, particularly Rhode Island, which has already legalized sports betting. Whether or not that prompts state lawmakers into action is still to be determined, but we’ve definitely seen revenue loss to nearby states become a big factor in other parts of the country.
Massachusetts Betting Laws Summary
- Sports betting is currently illegal in Massachusetts.
- No current bills are in motion to legalize sports betting.
- Three casinos were approved in 2014, with two already completed (Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield) and one scheduled for completion in 2019 (Encore Boston Harbor).
- Tribal casinos have also been approved with the $1 billion First Light Resort and Casino in Taunton.
- As of 2016, daily fantasy sports gamblers can place legal wagers in the state of Massachusetts.
The History of Online Sports Betting in Massachusetts
Historically sports betting has always been illegal in Massachusetts, both online and in brick and mortar casinos. However, in 2014 a political discussion began to address the millions of dollars believed to be leaving the state via wagers at offshore online betting sites.
This conversation was set against the backdrop of the 2011 Expanded Gaming Act that had opened up legal gambling prospects in a big way.
Browse the following list of key moments in Massachusetts gambling and sports betting history and you can see that the state has been set for legalized sports betting to make its debut soon:
- 1934 – The state legalizes its first Pari-mutuel horse betting race track land shortly after opens simulcast betting for tracks elsewhere.
- 1971 & 1972 – The first state lottery is introduced in 1971 and sells its first ticket in 1972. Tickets can also be purchased at lottery terminals which offer varying sorts of lottery-type games. Lottery tickets might soon be available online but this is still being discussed.
- 2007 & 2008 – A bill is introduced to legalize, license and sanction land-based casinos. The bill makes it all the way to the governor’s desk and is just one signature away from allowing the first state casino. Instead, the governor does not sign it, citing inaccurate financial estimation.
- 2011 – A new casino bill passes, overcoming strong opposition. The bill allows for three land-based casinos and one slots parlor.
- 2013 – The first casino license is sold to The Hard Rock Casinos group and MGM Resorts International, requiring a $400,000 deposit.
- 2014 – The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and the state finalize a compact to allow them to open the first tribal casino in the state.
- 2015 – Plainridge Park opens, becoming Massachusetts’ first legal casino.
Which Online Betting Sites Are Legal in Massachusetts?
As of now, no online sports betting sites are legal. Additionally, even if sports betting is legalized, there’s no guarantee that betting will also be available online.
However, as we’ve covered so far there are lots of reasons to believe that online sports gambling will be available in Massachusetts sooner rather than later.
If that does happen, you don’t have to look too far to see which online sportsbook brands are most likely to start operating in the state.
MGM already has a casino operating in Springfield and Wynn Resorts’ massive $2.4 billion Encore Boston Harbor project is already under construction.
Both of these companies have experience operating land-based and online sportsbooks they’re definitely the best bet as far as legal online sports betting sites in Massachusetts go.
Another reason to expect MGM and Wynn to be in on the action is that the online gambling committee which was created in 2016 has already held hearings in which representatives from the state’s three licensed casinos have lobbied to have sole rights over online gambling in the state.
Which Sports Can You Bet on Online in Massachusetts?
Once legalized, gamblers will be able to bet on the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and nearly any other professional sports league you can think of. When it comes to backing the local favorites, people in Massachusetts have a lot of options.
And it’s not just sports fans who are pushing the legal sports betting agenda. As noted earlier, owners of both the Red Sox and Patriots have publicly thrown their support behind legalization and the Celtics and Bruins both stand to gain a lot from a regulated sports betting market.
Here’s a look at the teams and sports that Massachusetts gamblers are most likely to focus their action on:
Founded in 1946 as one of the NBA’s original eight teams, the Boston Celtics have become one of the biggest franchises in all of basketball. They’ve won more championships than any other team with 17 which accounts for almost a quarter of the league’s total seasons played.
The Boston Red Sox are an absolutely iconic team in Major League baseball, having won nine World Series with their most recent championship title coming in 2018. The Red Sox have been around since 1901 and were part of the American League’s original eight charter teams.
Continuing the state’s tradition of dominant pro sports franchises, the New England Patriots will no doubt be a huge draw for gamblers when legalization occurs. The Pats have won five Super Bowls and play home games at Gillette Stadium about 20 miles outside of Boston.
The Boston Bruins are another big pro sports franchise that calls Massachusetts home and they’re also the proud owners of six Stanley Cup titles. Founded in 1924, the Bruins are the oldest NHL team in America and the third-oldest in the league. We expect a lot of betting action on the Bruins during hockey season.
The New England Revolution represents Massachusetts in MLS soccer and was one of the league’s ten charter members when it was founded in 1994. Despite making it to the MLS Cup finals on five separate occasions they have not yet won a championship.
From a college perspective, Mass is home to several high profile teams, including the Boston University Terriers, Boston College Eagles, and of course, the Harvard Crimson Tide. All NCAA sports are expected to be open for betting once legalization happens.
How to Bet on Sports Legally in Massachusetts
Currently, there are no legal ways to bet on sports in Massachusetts. However, in the event that legalization does happen, the most likely option would be through the state’s brand new land-based casinos.
Whether or not online sports betting initially comes with legalization is still to be determined. If online betting is permitted, presumably this would be made available through a sportsbook app operated by the brick and mortar casino-based sportsbooks.
If and when the state does open the doors to sports gambling, check back on this page for detailed instructions on how and where to place your bets.
Is Betting on Fantasy Sports Legal in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts was an early adopter of daily fantasy sports gambling, enacting legalization all the way back in 2016. DraftKings, one of DFS biggest and most prominent players, is headquartered in the Bay State.
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association and the US Gaming Commission oversee all DFS activity so you can feel safe and secure partaking in it whether you’re in MA or elsewhere.
What Is the Future of Online Sports Betting in Massachusetts?
While nothing has officially happened since PASPA was repealed in May 2018, there are reasons to be optimistic that Massachusetts could turn this around and enact legalization in 2019.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission estimates that the state could pull in tens of millions of dollars each year from sports gambling revenue, with many state lawmakers appearing to agree with those estimates.
Despite a slow start, pundits and experts are pegging the start of the 2019-2020 NFL and NBA seasons as a desired date for legalization, which would mean a bill would need to be brought to the legislature in early 2019 in order for it to be fully passed and implemented by the fall.
“The approach here is to move this to the front burner but to not move so quickly that we get it wrong,” said Massachusetts State Representative Joseph Wagner.
Check Back Soon for Legal Massachusetts Sports Betting
As of now, nothing has changed and in the short term (4-6 months) nothing appears to be changing either.
The key dates moving forward are all in early 2019. When the state legislature reconvenes, sports betting will be one of the hottest topics on the docket. With high hopes of legalization by fall 2019, gamblers should keep an eye out for any new developments over the next few months, with a possible referendum in the middle of 2019.
Check back on this page for major developments as they happen. If and when legalization occurs, we’ll have expert reviews and exclusive bonuses for all the best Massachusetts online sports betting sites and sportsbooks.