Though Massachusetts legalized daily fantasy sports in 2016, it isn’t moving very quickly when it comes to legalizing sports wagering. The most recent developments in this arena feature House Bill 3993 being passed to the Senate. Another bill from the Senate, S.269, is alternative sports wagering legislation being proposed. There’s a good chance sports betting will not be addressed by the Senate in 2021, leaving legalization to take place sometime next year.
Massachusetts Sports Betting Updates
In March 2020, House Bill 4559 passed the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means. However, debate on the bill was then quickly stalled because of COVID-19-related developments. The bill would theoretically require a $10 million application fee for each prospective operator (one of the highest potential fees in the industry) along with a 15% revenue tax for online and retail sports wagers.
Sports wagering discussions resumed in early 2021 with the Massachusetts legislature back in session. Many senators in the state, including Sen. Eric Lesser, want to push for sports wagering legalization as soon as possible. The revenue from a successful legalization bill may help the state recover from recent economic upheaval.
Despite the apparent goodwill in the public and many state senators and representatives, there is still some pushback against sports betting legalization. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that collegiate betting will be legalized. Many Division I athletic programs in Massachusetts and political leaders have already voiced opposition to any betting on college sports.
Gov. Charlie Baker has expressed his desire to pass sports betting in a quicker fashion. Welcoming back the New England Patriots for the 2021 NFL season, he’s noted multiple bills that have gone through congress. He believes Massachusetts is simply losing out on revenue from other neighboring states.
Time will tell how the state’s future sports wagering industry truly shapes up. It’s unlikely that sports wagering will launch in 2021 given how slow debate has been on multiple sports wagering bills. The only vote relating to sports betting was in May when budget amendments relating to the activity were rejected by the Senate. Senate President Karen Spilka did not have sports betting as a priority for discussion this fall.
Sportsbooks Coming Soon To Massachusetts
The full list of sportsbooks likely to come to Massachusetts can’t be guaranteed at this point. However, DraftKings – one of the largest sportsbook operators in the industry – is all but certain to pursue licensure. For one, it already provides daily fantasy sports to Massachusetts residents. For another, the operator’s headquarters is located in Boston.
FanDuel is another likely contender for future online sports wagering licensure. It’s another huge player in the industry and also provides DFS to Massachusetts at this time.
But other operators like BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars, PointsBet, Unibet, and FOX Bet and more may pursue licensure when sports betting is finally legalized. Some legislation considers high application fees of up to $7.5 million may dissuade some smaller sportsbooks that are still growing.
The possibility of not having to partner with a brick-and-mortar casino is also likely to attract lots of operators in the future. MGM operates a casino in Springfield, though, so this could help with the licensing process. Wynn operates Encore Boston Harbor, so WynnBET could also be a likely contender.
If Senate Bill 269 ends up being passed, this puts a limit on mobile sports betting. There would be a limit of six licenses available within the mobile betting category. That is in contrast to bill H.3993 that currently has no limit. Considering the length of discussions on sports wagering in the state, organizations should prepare for a limited amount of licenses available.
Guide To Betting Online In Massachusetts
Although sports wagering still hasn’t launched in Massachusetts at the time of this writing, it’s still important to know how to make a wager with an online sportsbook. Because Massachusetts only has three retail casinos currently operating, and one of them is slots-only (Plainridge Park Casino), chances are that any future sportsbooks will be mobile rather than retail-based.
Therefore, sports bettors will not likely have to register at a retail casino in order to complete signing up for a new sportsbook. Instead, odds are that players will be able to register for a sportsbook entirely online by providing some key personal information and agreeing to download geolocation tracking software.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at how you might place bets online in Massachusetts if and when the industry finally launches sometime in 2022.
When searching for a perfect sportsbook, be sure to consider the opening bonus that may come with the betting platform. Opening bonuses come in a few major types and are perfect for allowing you to check out everything that a sportsbook has to offer without spending too much cash.
- Deposit match bonuses apply to your initial deposit only and offer free site credit, usually based on how much you deposit overall. DraftKings, for instance, has a 20% deposit bonus of up to $1,000. This means a new user may deposit up to $5,000 and they receive the maximum bonus in site credit.
- Risk-free bets are perfect for newcomers who want some protection from initial bad luck. FanDuel and BetMGM offer a risk-free bet worth up to $1,000. Make your first wager and, if it goes south, you’ll get reimbursed in the form of free site credit vouchers
- Free bets are also commonly offered, either as temporary promotions or staple opening bonuses. DraftKings sometimes offers multiple free bets to new account holders, though this is dependent on the state. These free bets can be used on particular wagers with set odds limits
As you can see, there are lots of different opening bonuses and there’s sure to be something perfect for your wagering style or budget limitations.
However, each opening bonus also comes with a number of terms and conditions. These can affect when you can withdraw any winnings from opening bonus credit and other aspects.
For example, FanDuel requires you to play through any winnings you get from your risk-free bet vouchers at least once before you can withdraw any future winnings. Furthermore, your risk-free bet credit will be separated into five vouchers each worth 20% of your initial bet amount. So you won’t be able to make the same bet twice no matter how confident you are.
As mentioned, DraftKings’ occasional free bets can’t be used just anywhere. You can’t combine them with other wagers, which automatically limits how you can use them. For another, the bets have to be taken advantage of within a week of signing up for your account. Otherwise, they expire and can no longer be retrieved.
Ultimately, it’s important to read the terms and conditions before signing up with a sportsbook so you aren’t disappointed or surprised.
Local Pro Sports And Teams
Massachusetts’s future sports betting industry is likely to be big in part because of the wide range of professional sports franchises that call the state home.
- New England Patriots, a professional National Football League team that plays at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough
- Boston Celtics, a professional National Basketball League team that plays at TD Garden
- Boston Red Sox, a professional Major League Baseball team that plays at Fenway Park
- Boston Bruins, a professional National Hockey League team that plays at TD Garden
What’s more is that each franchise has a dedicated and wide-ranging fan base, making them perfect initial sports wagerers for the future industry. Many of these teams support the legalization of sports betting, especially since many of them qualify and have become partners for sports gambling operators.
When sports betting does eventually come to Massachusetts, you’ll likely be able to bet on all the major American sports mentioned above alongside sports like soccer, NASCAR, MMA, and more. Most big sportsbooks even include international betting markets for wagering on sports like cricket, rugby, and table tennis.
One important thing to keep in mind is that Massachusetts may not legalize full collegiate sports betting. Many states, such as New Jersey, don’t allow wagering on college sports whatsoever. But it remains to be seen whether the state will only ban sports wagering on in-state teams, games that take place within state lines, or if the state legislature will ban all college sports wagering.
Massachusetts’s professional sports teams are looking to push for sports betting legalization, but colleges in the state are not interested in sports wagering whatsoever. This is due to a desire to protect players and schools from any potential illegal activity or backlash.
Esports Betting In Massachusetts
Speaking of betting markets, esports is becoming more popular around the world. Future operators in Massachusetts like DraftKings and FanDuel will almost certainly provide betting lines for esports competitions for popular games like Dota 2, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, and more.
Legal Betting Vs Illegal Betting In Massachusetts
Right now, proponents of sports betting like Sen. Eric Lesser stress the importance of launching a legal and regulated sports wagering industry in part because of the prevalence of illegal betting sites. It’s never a good idea to use an offshore sportsbook for a few major reasons.
For instance, offshore sites don’t usually have quality digital security, so any personal information you provide may be at risk for identity theft. This is a much bigger issue than you may anticipate as most sportsbooks require you to provide key personal information to set up an account, like a bank account number and Social Security number.
Losing that information could be disastrous. Furthermore, offshore or illegal betting sites don’t provide high-quality betting lines. Your overall wagering experience may be less than satisfying when all is said and done.
But worst of all, there are no safeguards in place to prevent an offshore betting site from taking your wagering money once you deposit it into your account. This is the exact opposite of a regulated wagering site, which is overseen by a regulatory body and which is bound by law to operate fairly.
All in all, it’s better to wait for legal sportsbooks to launch in Massachusetts than it is to risk your personal information and money with an offshore betting site.
How Can You Tell That Online Sportsbooks In Massachusetts Are Fair?
There are lots of ways to tell whether a given online sportsbook is fair and regulated.
For starters, regulated sportsbooks will be listed by the Massachusetts Lottery, which is the most likely organization to regulate the future sports wagering industry. You should be able to find an icon on a sportsbook’s main website advertising their regulation. This marks them as a safe place to enjoy sports betting.
However, you can also look at the previous reputation of an online sportsbook. Names like BetRivers, DraftKings, and more are known throughout the country or the world. They offer sports wagering through legitimate channels instead of trying to sneak around the rules.
If you ever have any questions, you’ll be able to contact these organizations’ customer service departments or even the Massachusetts Lottery itself. Any newly regulated sportsbooks will likely be announced by local news sources, allowing you to create a new account and start using a new sportsbook almost as soon as it launches in this state.
Sports Betting In Massachusetts FAQs
Right now, none. Daily fantasy sports and online horse race wagering are the only two legal forms of gambling or gambling adjacent activities. However, recent discussions on legal sports betting indicate that the industry could launch sometime in 2022 once legalization occurs.
Not yet, and it’s unclear whether the future sports wagering industry in Massachusetts will allow college betting at all. There is a chance that it will allow collegiate wagering for out-of-state teams or games and ban wagering for any games that include in-state teams. This is supposed to protect players and universities from potential exploitation, such as insider betting.
No. But many sportsbooks that are likely to launch in Massachusetts in the future could include esports betting markets for your enjoyment. It’s just a matter of waiting until they get started.
Proposed tax rates range between 12.5% to 25%. But this tax rate is open to debate and nothing has been finalized at the time of this writing.
The current proposed legislation also postulates a $7.5 million application fee for future sportsbook operators. This is pretty high compared to many other states, even those that are discussing sports wagering legalization themselves. Any operator that can pay this or any other future application fee should be able to launch online sports wagering.
Not at this time. This operator has its headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, so it’s highly likely that it will seek licensure at the earliest opportunity. DraftKings does currently offer daily fantasy sports in the state.
FanDuel also offers daily fantasy sports. But like DraftKings, it doesn’t yet offer sports wagering. Since it is so large and has a presence in other states, it’s likely to launch in Boston shortly after the legalization of sports betting.