Why Massachusetts Sports Betting Law Prohibits Credit Card Deposits

When Massachusetts launches online sportsbooks, bettors will notice the absence of credit cards as a deposit method. This isn’t a choice made by the sportsbooks. Massachusetts sports betting law expresses prohibits the use of credit card payments for betting on sports.

But before anyone compares the restriction to the controversial law against betting on in-state college sports, they should know that there are good reasons to outlaw credit card deposits.

Preventing Credit Card Debt

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission sees the law against credit card betting as a responsible gaming measure. Gambling can be addictive, and the ability to continue betting without having the money can exacerbate the problem. By limiting a gambler’s ability to bet more than they actually have, it minimizes the consequences of a gambling habit, at least somewhat.

For example, if a gambler has $5,000 in cash and a $20,000 credit card limit, they could wager away $25,000. That’s $20,000 of debt that’s accruing interest and other potential fees. If the gambler then gets additional credit cards, they would have even more money to gamble – and even less of a way to pay it back.

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Other Issues With Credit Card Deposits

Lawmakers have made clear arguments for the societal benefit, but even responsible gamblers avoid using a credit card.

A deposit at an online sportsbook is considered cash, which is why a credit card deposit counts as a cash advance charge. A cash advance on a credit card is tied to much steeper fees than a regular credit card purchase. The limit on a cash advance is also much lower than the limit on regular purchases. For example, a credit card with a $10,000 limit can have a cash advance limit of $600.

Another common issue with credit card deposits is the fact that banks often reject the transactions. Until just a few years ago, almost all US states banned online gambling, so banks put up protections that prevented transactions to gambling websites. Those “protections” have lingered still, and sports bettors report around a 50% success rate for both debit and credit card deposits.

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Massachusetts Not Alone in Prohibiting Credit Card Deposits

When Iowa launched online sportsbooks in August 2019, the legislation did not ban betting with a credit card. Lawmakers reconvened on the issue in June 2020, nearly a year later, and voted to ban credit cards at sportsbooks, casinos, and DFS platforms.

“If you want to lose your paycheck, that’s fine,” Senator Tony Bisignano of Des Moinse said in an interview with Radio Iowa at the time. “I don’t know how long you get away with that from your family, but with a credit card, you can run a debt that can’t possibly be paid and so I thank the body for clarifying that.”

That encapsulates the reasoning for the Massachusetts sports betting law. In more than 20 US states, people can’t purchase lottery tickets with a credit card for that very reason. Since Iowa’s move, other states have banned the use of a credit card for sports betting, including Connecticut, New York, and Tennessee.

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Other Responsible Gaming Measures in Massachusetts

Eliminating credit card betting doesn’t curb problem gambling. Instead, it simply minimizes the consequences associated with problem gambling. Measures that actually increase Responsible Gaming include a voluntary self-exclusion list, where problem gamblers can provide their name to ensure they’re not allowed to gamble at legally-licensed sportsbooks or casinos.

Online sportsbooks also monitor sports betting activity and flag potentially problematic users, sometimes requiring proof of income for betting to proceed. Massachusetts has put in place similar measures, which bettors can expect will increase ahead of a sports betting launch.

Does Massachusetts Sports Betting Law Restrict Debit Cards?

No, Massachusetts sports betting law does not restrict the use of debit cards or any other form of deposit besides credit cards. However, as mentioned above, issuing banks often reject online gambling deposits with a debit card.

More reliable alternatives to transfer money from a bank account to a sportsbook account include online bank transfer, PayPal, Skrill, Venmo, and other trusted methods offered by sports betting apps.

Can I Get Credit at Massachusetts Sportsbooks?

Online sportsbooks in the US don’t generally allow users to bet on credit. However, some brick-and-mortar casinos in the US, including in Massachusetts, will provide money for gambling on credit after a thorough credit check.

Many of these casinos, particularly those in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, also house a retail sportsbook for in-person sports betting. That means a bettor could, in theory, use its gambling credit to bet on sports when Massachusetts casinos open on-site sports betting.

About the Author

Mike Epifani

Mike Epifani is the Casino Content Manager and a regular contributor at Massachusetts Casinos. He is an experienced online gambling writer who specializes in online casinos and sports betting sites. From the nuances of bonus offers to winning strategies and beyond, his insights have helped countless remote bettors keep more of their money while having fun and staying safe.