Gambling enthusiasts can visit Massachusetts and find a handful of high-quality retail casinos to enjoy along with a state-run lottery. The law also has allowances for charitable or house-based gambling. Horse and dog racing are available at certain racetracks.
The Bay State currently has a confusing gambling industry: it allows certain gambling offerings like retail casinos, but it restricts other forms of gambling like sports betting. Massachusetts doesn’t allow online gambling in any capacity, whether it’s online casino games or sports wagers.
For the time being, residents and visitors can only enjoy these activities through online sweepstakes casinos and poker platforms. But there may be change on the horizon.
As of March 2021, there have been 14 bills filed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to legalize sports betting to some capacity. There are still a lot of discussions that need to be had, as no deals have been made regarding what role, if any, Native American tribes would play in a future sports betting industry.
There’s plenty of evidence that the people of Massachusetts are willing to expand gambling if given the opportunity to vote on the issue. Massachusetts retail casinos are also due to expand their offerings in the near future; a fourth and final casino might be constructed over the next year or two.
Let’s take a closer look at the retail and online gambling industries in Massachusetts so you know what to expect if you ever visit this state.
Is Online Gambling And Sports Betting Legal In Massachusetts?
Simply put, no. But it may not be due to legislative pushback.
In 2011, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Expanded Gaming Act, which allowed three retail casinos to be constructed in addition to a single slots parlor. Under this legislation, the casinos were to be built in three separate regions to ensure that gambling revenue went to appropriate counties.
This indicates that Massachusetts in general isn’t against gambling by default. Instead, it’s likely that the state legislature simply hasn’t seen an appropriate bill for online casino games or sports wagering brought to a vote yet.
Indeed, there’s no legislative framework in place for any future online gambling industry in this state. But that doesn’t mean that certain legislators haven’t tried.
The state created a commission in 2016 to study online gambling, which included nine people comprised of lawmakers, the Attorney General, and gambling industry experts. The committee conducted several hearings over the next few years. They found that each of the three retail casino properties currently operating has expressed interest in providing online casino websites to Massachusetts residents.
While this doesn’t specifically apply to sports betting, any future sports wagering industry will likely use the frameworks being discussed about online casino sites right now to accelerate the legalization process.
More recently, two newly elected state senators introduced prospective sports betting legislation that would let small businesses, like restaurants and bars, offer sports betting. Remember, there are currently several sports betting bills filed awaiting discussion and potential votes. This indicates there’s a lot of legislative momentum behind legal sports wagering, even if there aren’t any big developments to discuss at this time.
The bottom line is this: online gambling and sports wagering are not yet legal in Massachusetts, but they may be closer to legalization than it seems.
Massachusetts Casino List
Currently, Massachusetts operates three retail casinos in different regions of the state. As a result, Massachusetts residents never have to drive too far to enjoy slot or table games.
Located in Plainville, MA, this casino opened in 2015 and was the first slots parlor in Massachusetts. It’s about 35 miles south of Boston’s metropolitan area and is open 24 hours a day for user convenience. Here, visitors can find over 1,200 slot machines, blackjack and video poker stations, and live harness racing. In fact, this casino was the only live harness racing track in Massachusetts.
Simulcast racing screens are available for live-streamed races as well. Aside from gambling-specific offerings, this casino offers a few different restaurants alongside a food court, plus a Revolutionary-era lounge where live music is performed regularly. A 1,600-spot parking garage is available for day-visitors.
This Springfield Casino is quite expansive, including 500,000 ft.² and covering three city blocks in downtown Springfield. It offers 125,000 ft.² of gaming space, 3,000 slot machines, and 75 gaming tables for blackjack or craps enthusiasts. It also offers a dedicated poker room with regular tournaments and a VIP high-limit gambling area.
This casino offers many other amenities on top of its gaming options, such as 165,000 ft.² of dining, retail, and entertainment venues. These include 15 shops and restaurants, a movie cinema and bowling alley, and an outdoor stage for entertainment performances like live music.
Parking is easy thanks to the multilevel garage with 5,000 parking spaces. You can stay at a 25 story hotel and enjoy a pool, spa, and outdoor garden.
This Massachusetts casino is located in Everett and has over 200,000 ft.² of gaming space available. There are over 3,000 slot machines and 143 table games, alongside an 88 table poker room. While there aren’t any restaurants or lounges here yet, an upcoming expansion is due to rectify this downside, with 15 eateries and lounges planned.
There is currently a five-star luxury hotel tower that includes over 700 guest rooms and suites, alongside a beauty salon, spa, and fitness center. Visitors will also find a public harbor walk with both pedestrian and bike paths, a water taxi service into the city of Boston, and 94,000 ft.² of high-end retail space currently filled with a variety of shops.
In addition to these retail casinos, the Aquinnah tribe is attempting to build a casino in Martha’s Vineyard. This prospective casino would originally have been 100,000 square feet in total and have included at least 250 electronic gaming machines like slot games, but plans may have changed due to recent legal developments.
Currently, construction remains on hold due to issues regarding zoning laws. A 2019 federal case filed by Martha’s Vineyard’s Commission ruled that the tribe had to abide by certain zoning laws, which was then reaffirmed during a February 2021 Appeals Court decision.
The tribe is currently appealing the decision again, as it is preventing them from constructing according to schedule. Even before this, there was some legal debate about whether the Aquinnah tribe or another local tribe would be granted the rights to build a new casino.
Live Sports Betting In Massachusetts
There isn’t a live sports-betting industry in Massachusetts at this time. But there have been many historical pushes for legalization in the past.
In 2019, Gov. Charlie Baker proposed a sports betting bill of his own that would have made Massachusetts the second state to legalize the activity if it had passed. This bill included details such as a 12.5% tax rate for online wagers and a 10% tax rate for in-person wagers. However, this bill was delayed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
This hasn’t stopped other bills from being brought to the legislature over time. There are now over 20 prospective sports betting bills filed in either chamber of the state legislature, indicating that there’s a significant push both by the public and by individual legislators to legalize sports wagering.
The reasons for this are obvious. The state government was significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and sports wagering would allow for a significant increase in state revenue through taxes. Right now, all betting dollars are going to nearby states like New Jersey. Furthermore, Gov. Charlie Baker still supports sports betting.
Luckily, the Massachusetts legislature doesn’t adjourn until the end of 2021, so there’s plenty of time to work out the details and potentially legalize a sports betting bill. Time will tell whether sports wagering comes this year or is delayed once more in favor of different measures.
Massachusetts Gambling FAQs
You need to be 21 years of age or older to enter any retail casinos in Massachusetts and to participate in the state lottery.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission currently oversees all land-based casino gaming activities. It’s not clear whether this organization will also oversee any future sports wagering industry.
The three currently active casinos in Massachusetts are each owned by commercial entities. For example, MGM Springfield is owned by MGM International. A fourth casino is currently in construction limbo. If it is eventually constructed, it will be owned by the Aquinnah Wampanoag Native American tribe.
Only to provide daily fantasy sports. This is ironic as DraftKings’ corporate headquarters is located in Boston. There’s little doubt that if sports betting is ever legalized, DraftKings will be among the first operators to pursue and acquire licensure.
FanDuel Sportsbook Massachusetts ReviewJust like DraftKings, FanDuel cannot legally provide sports betting but it does provide daily fantasy sports.