When Will Massachusetts Legalize Sports Betting and Online Gambling?
In the early morning of Aug. 1, Massachusetts lawmakers reached an agreement on a Massachusetts sports betting bill. Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill into law on the afternoon of Aug. 10. This officially paves the way for legalized sports gambling in Massachusetts.
The prevailing thought is that, when sports betting launches, that would then open the door for gambling at Massachusetts online casinos to become legal, too. Currently, legal online casinos only exist in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, West Virginia, Michigan, and Delaware.
Serious doubt surrounded the legislative session that the Massachusetts sports betting bill would pass by the end of July 31. Technically, they didn’t until Aug. 1. But they finally came to an agreement on the various issues they didn’t align with.
The Senate and House of Representatives had different ideas for tax rates and how many mobile sportsbooks would be allowed. But college sports betting appeared to be the stickiest issue. The House wanted it allowed; the Senate didn’t. Good news for Massachusetts residents: The House and Senate ironed out their college sports betting disagreement and found common ground.
Massachusetts Online Gambling
Currently, gambling with real money at online casinos or online poker is not legal in Massachusetts. The House and Senate have sent gambling legislation to Gov. Baker, but it’s a sports-focused gambling bill. Massachusetts online casinos have not been part of that discussion.
The general consensus is that gambling at online casinos will soon be legalized too. Many of the same sportsbook apps that will get licenses in Massachusetts also run online casinos, so it only makes sense. And let’s be real: More online gambling in MA means more revenue for the state.
So … what comes next? Now that Baker has signed the bill, the process of implementing regulations and setting up retail and online sports gambling begins. There are no timelines in place, so we do not know any timeframes for when sports betting could be available.
The main takeaway from an earlier Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting in August? Massachusetts residents need to be patient. Don’t expect MA sports betting to launch before football season. Retail betting could launch before the online version at the three major casinos.
But no sports gambling will occur until regulations are written out, the public provides their input on the first draft, and the rules are voted on. Online casinos will be much further off as that aspect of mobile gambling was not part of the bill.
While online sports betting is spreading across the US like wildfire, online casinos are being legalized more slowly. Right now, six states have legal online casinos: Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Those seven states also have legal online poker, as well as Nevada.
In the gambling industry, Massachusetts is seen as a state more likely than others to legalize online gambling, along with states such as California, New York, and Illinois. Online casinos and online poker began when Nevada legalized online poker in 2013. New Jersey and Delaware then legalized online poker and casinos, and the other states have since followed suit. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been discussing the potential for online gambling since 2016.
But, again, all focus was on passing a sports wagering bill. So, anybody interested in online blackjack, craps, slots, or anything else should be thrilled that legalized sports gambling is now coming to Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Gambling News
Legal Online Gambling in Massachusetts
Massachusetts residents can legally gamble at the state’s three retail casinos: Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino (slots only). But, if you want to gamble from home or on the go, there are still legal online gambling options in Massachusetts. With a sports betting bill finally passed, there will soon be four legal options on this list. But, for now:
Horse Race Betting
You’re allowed to gamble online on horse racing in Massachusetts, and there are several great options. TVG Racing offers odds on races from around the world with a streamlined set-up. AmWager and DRF Bets are solid, too. If and when they get sportsbook licenses in Massachusetts, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook will likely bring BetMGM Horse Racing and Caesars Racebook to the state.
Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily fantasy sports, or DFS, was legalized in Massachusetts in 2016. DraftKings and FanDuel have almost a complete monopoly on DFS right now, but other companies, such as Outlast, Underdog, Betcha, PrizePicks and Monkey Knife Fight, have gained a small chunk of the market share. DFS provides a quality online gambling option for Massachusetts residents until sports getting is legalized.
Social and Sweepstakes Casinos
Never heard of a social or a sweepstakes casino? They’re legal in almost all US states, including Massachusetts. On these sites, players gamble using fake coins or tokens. Some of those currencies can ultimately be exchanged for real cash prizes. Chumba Casino is quickly becoming the most popular social casino out there. Other choices include Luckyland Slots, Global Poker, Funzpoints, and Pulsz.
Online Gambling Sites Coming Soon to Massachusetts
DraftKings already offers daily fantasy sports to Massachusetts residents. DraftKings Sportsbook will certainly get a license in the state now that sports betting will be legalized. And if and when online casinos come to Massachusetts, DraftKings Casino has quickly become a quality product in that industry.
Like DraftKings, FanDuel already has daily fantasy sports in Massachusetts. And, also like DraftKings, FanDuel Sportsbook and FanDuel Casino is no doubt coming to the Bay State when sports betting and online casinos launch.
A titan in the field, Caesars has excellent products in Caesars Sportsbook and Caesars Casino. Its online casino offering is widely considered one of the best in the US. Both platforms will surely come to Massachusetts when sports betting and all online gambling is legalized.
Massachusetts Sports Gambling Bill Updates
The quickest way for gambling at online casinos to become legal in Massachusetts is for sports gambling to first become legal and open the door. And that is now happening, thanks to the House and Senate reaching an agreement and Gov. Charlie Baker signing the bill on Aug. 10.
Although college sports betting appeared to be the main roadblock, the House and Senate disagreed on other issues, as well. Here’s how those differences were ironed out:
- Tax rates: The House bill proposed a 12.5% tax on in-person bets and 15% on mobile betting. The Senate bill proposed a 20% tax on in-person bets and 35% on mobile betting. The final version? It’s 15% on in-person bets and 20% on mobile betting.
- Advertising: The Senate bill also banned sports betting ads during live sports broadcasts, and five minutes before and after those broadcasts. The House bill did not have that restriction. The final version? No such bans on advertising.
- Credit cards: The Senate bill proposed that credit cards wouldn’t be allowed to be used for sports betting, and that provision is in the final version.
- College sports: The Senate wanted no betting on college sports of any kind. The House wanted all of it legal. The final version? College sports betting is legal, but Massachusetts residents can only bet on in-state schools if they reach the postseason.
From here, we’ll see how long the rollout process takes. It should be the quickest for Massachusetts retail sportsbooks at MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor. All three major casinos are expected to have a retail and online sportsbook with their official operating partner.
In June, Baker told reporters: “There are a lot of people who literally just drive out of Massachusetts so that they can bet on sports, and it’s happening all over the country. And without a legal way to do this, it’s a little bit like the marijuana issue. You just leave the black market there, and you don’t sort of bring it out of the shadows and make it part of the regular crime. I think we should do that.”
Baker is now a happy man.
Massachusetts Online Gambling Deposit and Withdrawal Options
When Massachusetts legalizes online gambling and sports betting, its deposit and withdrawal options will be similar to what you’d see in other states. You’ll be able to connect your online banking account to the casino or sportsbook. You’ll also be able to use a range of other funding options, including credit/debit cards, e-checks, or e-wallets such as PayPal.
Massachusetts residents can already utilize these options for legal horse race betting and daily fantasy sports. Keep in mind that some apps, including the popular horse race betting platform TVG Racing, has a $5 deposit fee for credit/debit cards and PayPal.
Recommended Methods: Online Banking and Debit Card
Online banking is the simplest and fastest way to deposit and withdraw money when gambling or sports betting online. You can simply connect your bank account to your online casino or sportsbook account, and you’re all set. Debit cards are also a good, relatively quick option. We recommend debit cards over credit cards because it’s always safer to gamble with money you actually have.
How Long Do Deposits and Withdrawals Take?
Deposits are just about instantaneous. New users simply take go through the method desired and the money will be available almost immediately. The only method that won’t be immediate is some form of wire transfer. We don’t recommend this method because fees are usually associated with it.
Withdrawals vary by method and the online casino or sportsbook. We also recommend online banking for withdrawals, as this is often the fastest option (1-3 business days) and there is no minimum requirement. PayPal can sometimes take 3-5 business days, and checks can take up to two weeks.
|Credit Card||No||No||No. Usually rejected by the issuing bank and counts as a cash advance charge.|
|Debit Card||Yes||Maybe||Yes. Connected to an online banking account with no fees. VISA and MasterCard usually allowed.|
|Pay with Cash (PayNearMe/VanillaDirect)||Yes||No||Yes. Convenient option for making cash deposits at 7-Eleven, CVS, and beyond.|
|Online Banking (ACH)||Yes||Yes||Yes. No fees, and winnings go directly into your checking account.|
|VIP Preferred/ACH||Yes||Yes||Yes. No fees and a secure digital alternative to paper checks.|
|PayPal||Yes||Yes||Yes. No fees and a great ewallet for online betting.|
|Play+ Card||Yes||Yes||It depends. If you want to keep your sports betting finances completely separate and use the funds at other locations (the sportsbook will send you a prepaid card), then it’s a viable option.|
History of Gambling and Sports Betting in Massachusetts
Pari-mutuel wagers for horse and dog races have been legal in Massachusetts since 1934. Today, charitable gambling activities, like bingo, raffles, and even MA casino nights, are totally legal at certain establishments. A state lottery has been running since 1971.
Casinos were constructed after November 2011, when then-Governor Deval Patrick signed the Expanded Gaming Act into law. This allowed three commercial casinos (Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor) to be constructed in distinct regions throughout the state.
In 2016, daily fantasy sports were legalized. This was a big boon to DraftKings, a major sportsbook based in Boston.
Meanwhile, sports betting has lagged behind. Multiple bills were proposed in either the House or Senate throughout 2018 and 2019, but none progressed far.
The House passed a sports betting bill in March 2020, but it didn’t advance any further. Then sports betting legalization stalled as Massachusetts and the rest of the country dealt with COVID-19.
Now, just over two years later, Massachusetts lawmakers are legalizing sports betting in the Bay State. The House and Senate agreed on legislation and sent it to be signed by Gov. Baker on Aug. 1.
Timeline of Massachusetts’ Gambling History
- 1934 — Massachusetts legalizes pari-mutuel wagering for horse races and dog races.
- 1971 — The Massachusetts state lottery is established. Tickets are sold the following year.
- November 2011 — The Expanded Gaming Act is signed into law and allows for the construction of three commercial casinos.
- June 2015 — The state’s single slots-only casino, Plainridge Park Casino, opens.
- March 2020 — Sports betting legislation moves to the House in Massachusetts with bill H.4559.
- November 2020 — Senate rejects amendment to legalize sports betting.
- February 2021 — Bill H.70 is introduced by Gov. Baker.
- April 2021 — House proposes a fiscal budget for 2022 without sports betting revenue.
- July 2021 — Bill H.3993 is overwhelmingly approved by the House.
- October 2021 — Senate President Karen Spilka does not list sports betting as a priority for the rest of the year, leading to a belief that discussion will be picked up at some point in 2022.
- April 2022 — Senate passes its own sports betting bill, S.2844.
- May 2022 — Conference committee, with members from House and Senate, is formed to try to reach an agreement on a sports betting bill.
- June 9, 2022 — Michael Rodrigues, the Senate Ways and Means Chairman, says the conference committee will work to get an approved sports betting bill on Gov. Baker’s desk “as quickly as possible.”
- July 8, 2022 — State Rep. Jerry Parisella tells MassLive he is hopeful Massachusetts will pass a sports betting bill by the July 31 end of session.
- July 13, 2022 — Senate President Karen Spilka also tells reporters she is hopeful the conference committee will get a sports betting bill to Gov. Baker by July 31.
- Aug. 1, 2022 — Massachusetts lawmakers go past their July 31 deadline, into the early morning of Aug. 1, to agree on a sports betting bill for Gov. Baker to sign.
- Aug. 4, 2022 — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets and preaches patience for the launch of MA sports betting. Licensing could take as long as six months.
- Aug. 10, 2022 — Gov. Baker signs the MA sports betting bill into law.
Massachusetts Online Gambling FAQs
Yes. There are three open casinos in Massachusetts, one of which is slots only. Native American tribes are pursuing legal efforts to construct a fourth and fifth casino.
All of the open casinos are owned by private companies. Native American tribes in Massachusetts are pursuing legal efforts to construct a fourth and fifth casino.
It will be soon. The Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate reached an agreement on a sports betting bill on Aug. 1. The bill is now signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker, and then it will just be a matter of time before Massachusetts residents can legally bet on sports.
No. While the state does have a lottery, it does not allow you to purchase tickets online. You can, however, see if you win online.
You need to be 21 years of age or older, which is the same age required in other states.
Yes. The only casino locations are retail, so you don’t have any online casino gambling options. So you also don’t need to worry about identity theft or other digital threats.