Massachusetts Online Sports Betting

Though Massachusetts legalized daily fantasy sports just a few years ago, it isn’t moving very quickly when it comes to legalizing sports wagering. The most recent developments in this arena have come with HB 4559, a bill proposed by Sen. Brendan Crighton, which could bring Massachusetts sports betting one step closer to legalization.

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.

It’s being discussed more regularly now that the Massachusetts legislature is back in session. Many senators in Massachusetts, including Sen. Eric Lesser, want to push for sports wagering legalization as soon as possible, as 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 push back against sports betting legalization. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that collegiate betting will be legalized since many Division I athletic programs in Massachusetts have already voiced opposition to any betting on college sports.

Time will tell how Massachusetts’s future sports wagering industry truly shapes up. It’s unlikely that sports wagering will launch in 2021 given how slow debate on HB 4559 and other bills is progressing, but it may be possible that sports betting will launch in 2022.

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, William Hill, and more may pursue licensure when sports betting is finally legalized. The high proposed application fee of $15 million may dissuade some smaller sportsbooks that are still growing, like BetMGM. But 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. 

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, 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 over the next year or so.

Opening Bonuses

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. BetMGM, for instance, has a $600 deposit match bonus at a 100% rate. Deposit up to $600 and you’ll get a matching amount in site credit, doubling your initial wagering cash
  • Risk-free bets are perfect for newcomers who want some protection from initial bad luck. FanDuel offers a risk-free bet worth up to $1000. 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 five $5 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. For one, they’re only worth $5 and 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. These include the Boston Celtics, an NBA team, the New England Patriots, an NFL team, the Boston Red Sox, an MLB team, the Boston Bruins, an NHL team, and more.

What’s more is that each of these teams has a dedicated 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 may be able to qualify as partners for sportsbook 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 UFC fighting, and more. Most big sportsbooks even include international betting markets for wagering on sports like cricket, rugby, and more.

One important thing to keep in mind is that Massachusetts will not likely 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 Massachusetts will only ban sports wagering on in-state teams or 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 the college teams in the states 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 League of Legends and more.

Legal Betting Vs Illegal Betting In Massachusetts

Right now, proponents for 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, which 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, and 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

What kinds of sports bets are legal in Massachusetts?

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 over the next year or so, once legalization occurs.

Can I bet on college sports in Massachusetts?

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.

Can I bet on eSports in Massachusetts?

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.

What is the tax rate for online sports betting in Massachusetts?

The current proposed tax rate for future online sports betting is 15%. But this tax rate is open to debate and nothing has been finalized at the time of this writing.

Who can get a license to run an online sportsbook in Massachusetts?

The current proposed legislation also postulates a $15 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.

Is DraftKings offering sports betting in Massachusetts?

Not at this time. But 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.

Is FanDuel offering sports betting in Massachusetts?

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.

About the Author

Amber Hoffman

Amber Hoffman is Managing Editor of MassachusettsCasinos.com. A recovering attorney, she's spent almost a decade developing and managing websites and writing for a variety of industries. Amber married into a Red Sox family and has embraced the Sox ever since.