How To Bet on College Sports in Massachusetts

Massachusetts, home of DraftKings Sportsbook and several iconic sports franchises, currently prohibits sports betting in all forms. However, state lawmakers have been taking action to change this ban and make their constituents, who are betting fans, happy.

College Sports Betting Legislative Outlook

The issue of legal sports betting has been a rollercoaster ride for everyone, either directly involved or anxiously waiting. Massachusetts legislators — both in the House and Senate — have gone back and forth passing and rejecting sports betting bills for years.

The House passed a relaxed pro-sports betting bill, H.3993, last July. The Senate responded by passing a bill of its own, dubbed S.269, but it had strict provisions. The House then rejected the Senate’s harsh new conditions, paving the way for a six-member — three from each chamber — conference committee in hopes of reconciling their competing visions.

While the committee will address many sports betting sticking points, such as advertising restrictions and tax rates, the biggest impediment seems to be regarding college sports. Even if the committee can compromise on legal college betting, there’s still deciding whether residents can wager on in-state colleges, which only a handful of states currently offer in some fashion.

How Other States Compare

The only states that permit in-state college sports betting are Colorado, Connecticut (only futures odds), Indiana, Illimois (only in-person), Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Neighboring states New York and New Jersey do allow collegiate betting but not at the in-state level.

If Massachusetts wants to join in on the sports betting industry, its lawmakers are going to have to act fast, as the current legislative session ends on July 31, 2022. An informal session goes until Jan. 2, 2023.

Betting on College Basketball in Massachusetts

Massachusetts, particularly Boston, is a major basketball hub. College sports betting isn’t legal in Massachusetts, but with many adjacent states, including New York, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, permitting college betting to some extent, Massachusetts will likely follow suit in the near future.

While Massachusetts college basketball teams don’t receive the same amount of fanfare as the Boston Celtics of the NBA, there are still eight colleges and universities with Division I basketball programs in the Bay State that will attract many sports bettors. Here are a few notable Massachusetts schools that are popular in the college basketball world:

Harvard Basketball

Harvard basketball started its basketball journey in 1900. It took the Crimson a while to make national noise, making their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1946. They subsequently missed the tournament for a record 66-straight seasons until their appearance in 2012.

The 2010s was Harvard’s most successful decade, reaching the tournament four times and becoming conference regular-season champions seven times.

Boston College Basketball

Boston College’s program started in 1904 but went through several years of weak play and fan support before shutting down several times over the next 20 years. After basketball gained popularity in the 1940s, the team reopened as a permanent part of the school’s athletics program in 1945.

Since then, the Eagles have been one of Massachusetts’ more prominent college basketball teams, earning a state-best 18 NCAA Tournament appearances. They are three-time conference tournament champions and four-time conference regular-season champions.

Boston University Basketball

Formed in 1915, Boston University has won its conference tournament seven times and have won its regular-season title eight times. Meanwhile, BU is seven-time participants in the NCAA Tournament.

BU won the Patriot League Championship for the first time in 2020, but it couldn’t continue its run through the national tournament, as it was canceled due to the COVID pandemic.

Holy Cross Basketball

Holy Cross is arguably the most successful basketball program in Massachusetts, having won the state’s only national championship in 1947. It has reached the NCAA Tournament 13 times, the Sweet 16 four times, and the Final Four twice. Holy Cross is the home of NBA Hall of Famer Bob Cousy.

The Crusaders were one of the nation’s most dominant teams from the late-1940s to the early-1950s. However, they followed their dominance with a 53-year period without a tournament win, until ending the drought in 2016.

UMass Basketball

The UMass basketball team has been around since 1900. In all, the school has made nine trips to the Big Dance, including two runs to the Sweet 16.

UMass claimed 10 conference tournament titles as part of the Yankee Conference. The school is where Julius “Dr. J” Erving would begin his legendary basketball career. The Minutemen reached the Final Four in 1996, but their tournament victories that season were vacated due to a bribing scandal involving former player Marcus Camby.

Betting on March Madness in Massachusetts

While Massachusetts bettors can’t wager on March Madness — let alone on their home-state teams — from their own couches, they have the option to drive to nearby states to partake in the March Madness betting fun.

For example, New Hampshire is a state where Massachusetts residents commonly go to place bets because it is only an hour or two drive. Massachusetts residents can also travel to bordering states New York and Connecticut.

Betting on College Football in Massachusetts

Massachusetts doesn’t breathe college football as much as it does with college basketball or professional football, but there are still fans eager to bet on college football once betting opens up in the commonwealth.

Massachusetts has more college football programs, albeit mostly in Division III, than most other states. Here are some Massachusetts schools that have revered football programs:

Boston College Football

Boston College is hands down the marquee football program in Massachusetts.

Not only are they the fourth-oldest program in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, but the Eagles are also the only Massachusetts-based school to be in an FBS conference.

Boston College has three Atlantic Division titles in the ACC and one Big East Conference title (2004). It claims to be the national champions in 1940 after beating Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl, but the NCAA doesn’t recognize it as the champion because it didn’t finish No. 1 in the Associated Press Poll that season. Nevertheless, the school has still produced 13 consensus All-Americans and one Heisman winner.

UMass Football

UMass has enjoyed all sorts of success since its inception. It had been a cornerstone program of the Yankee Conference for nearly 50 seasons, resulting in 17 Yankee Conference titles.

It transferred to the Atlantic 10 Conference in 1997, where it won four more conference titles and appeared in three Division I FCS national championship games — winning one (1998). UMass is currently an FBS independent program, meaning it is not part of an NCAA-affiliated conference. Still, it is one of two Massachusetts-based schools (Boston College) to be a part of the FBS.

Betting on NCAA Bowl Games in Massachusetts

As mentioned before, sports fans in Massachusetts can’t wager on bowl games featuring in-state or out-of-state teams.

However, they can travel to New York or Pennsylvania, two states with dozens of college football programs, and place bets on any team they’d like when bowl season rolls around. With college football coming in August, there will be a new influx of college sports bettors in Massachusetts looking to migrate to legal betting states.

How To Bet on College Sports in Massachusetts

With sports betting currently on hold in Massachusetts, regardless of where or how you’d choose to place your bets — whether it be at a horse racetrack, casino, or online — collegiate betting isn’t available. However, once Massachusetts lawmakers make the legal switch, residents will have plenty of options for placing bets on their favorite college teams.

We might see some retail sportsbooks open up at local horse racetracks and casinos in Massachusetts, too. If you plan on visiting these retail betting parlors, keep in mind that you’ll need to show proof that you are 21 years of age or older.

Here’s a list of online and retail sports betting options that Massachusetts bettors may have at their disposal once the state legalizes any form of legal college sports betting:

DraftKings Sportsbook Massachusetts

DraftKings is on top of the list for several reasons, starting with the fact that the company is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. It’s almost guaranteed that it’ll be one of the first sportsbooks to launch in the commonwealth. Another driver is that DraftKings offers daily fantasy sports, but not college sports.

FanDuel Sportsbook Massachusetts

FanDuel, like DraftKings, offers non-collegiate sports daily fantasy contests. This top-notch sportsbook supplies its bettors with an easy-to-navigate betting app that contains a wide variety of sports bets, along with a welcoming signup bonus.

Caesars Sportsbook Massachusetts

Caesars Sportsbook has been a trusted player in the gaming sector for decades, and it recently joined the sports betting business. This gaming juggernaut acquired William Hill Sportsbook and completely revamped the app. Retail bettors should look to register for this (potentially retail-only) sportsbook if and when sports betting expands to Massachusetts.

MGM Springfield

One of Massachusetts’ two full-scale casinos, MGM Springfield, One MGM Way, Springfield, MA 01103, is owned by the same parent company as the sportsbook BetMGM. This connection alone should help pave the way for the sportsbook to open up in the state.

Plainridge Park Casino

Plainridge, 301 Washington St, Plainville, MA 02762, is a casino owned by Penn National Gaming, which also owns Barstool Sportsbook. If Penn National was to operate its subsidiary sportsbook in Massachusetts, the sportsbook would likely be attached to the casino in a retail capacity.

Encore Boston Harbor

Encore, 1 Broadway, Everett, MA 02149, is a casino owned by Wynn, which makes it likely WynnBET could have a leg up when applying for a license in the state when Massachusetts legalizes sports betting.

Calculating College Sports Betting Odds

Understanding College Betting Odds

Before college sports betting becomes legal in Massachusetts, bettors should understand how odds are calculated and what they mean. Let’s break down two basic types of bets: moneyline and spread.

Let’s say there’s a hypothetical game between the Boston College Eagles and Army Black Knights. Boston College is priced at -320 odds on the moneyline to beat Army (priced at +255). The spread is pegged at 6.5 points in Boston College’s favor.

For the moneyline, -320 means that a $320 wager on Boston College to win the game outright would pay out $100 if it hits. On the flipside, +255 signifies that a $100 wager on Army to win the game would pay out $255.

A 6.5-point spread means that the Eagles would have had to win by seven-plus points to cover the spread, whereas the Black Knights would have had to lose by six points or less, or even win the game, for the bet to cash.

Let’s say Boston College wins by one point. Bettors who backed the Eagles to cover the spread would’ve lost money, but bettors who backed them to win the game outright would’ve won money.

How Sportsbooks Calculate Odds

Sportsbooks have to consider a lot of factors when calculating competitive betting odds. One of the most influential factors is home-away trends. Boston College plays significantly better at home than it does on the road, which plays a huge role in the team’s odds.

Another factor that oddsmakers consider is the weather. The weather may have a severe impact on outdoor sports, such as football, and on how certain players and teams perform, but it has little to no impact on basketball games.

Other factors that affect odds are lineups, injuries, in-play trends (which are important for live betting), the strength of opponents, schedule, and more.

College Sports Betting Odds FAQs

Is it legal to bet on college sports in Massachusetts?

No, college sports betting as well as sports betting in general are not legal in Massachusetts. Policymakers in the state are currently making their last few pushes before the legislative deadline in July, and there’s a chance that the final bill could include college sports.

How popular is betting on college sports?

College sports are among the most popular sports to bet on in the US. College sports’ large volume of teams and games creates more opportunities for more wagers, which in turn generates considerable revenue for sportsbooks. The American Gaming Association (AGA), a top gaming association, published a letter in mid-May stating that 20% of all legal betting was wagered on college sports.

Can I bet on Massachusetts college teams?

No, Massachusetts sports fans are not able to place bets on any hometown team while within state lines. The same rule applies to nearby states, such as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. However, it is common for Massachusetts residents to drive up to New Hampshire to back their favorite Bay State college programs like Boston College, Holy Cross, and Boston University.

Where can I bet on championship games in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts bettors can’t wager on championship games from the comfort of their own homes. Whether it be on NCAA football bowl games, NCAA basketball conference championships, or any national college championship, fans eager to bet money on a college championship can only travel to states where it is permitted to do so.

Which sportsbook has the best odds on college sports?

There isn’t any one sportsbook that has the “best odds” over all of its competitors, as the “best” sportsbook switches from game to game. Instead of focusing on just one sportsbook, try shopping around many to all betting sources to see which one best fits your preferences. Bettors should register for multiple sportsbook apps not only to maximize profits but also to capitalize on as many signup bonuses as possible.

Does DraftKings offer odds on college sports in Massachusetts?

No, DraftKings does not offer college sports odds in Massachusetts. However, if and when state law legalizes college betting, DraftKings will surely be the first to launch.

Does FanDuel offer odds on college sports in Massachusetts?

No, FanDuel does not offer college sports odds in Massachusetts. However, as with DraftKings, Massachusetts bettors can expect to see FanDuel in their state once legalization is achieved.

About the Author

Cyrus Eshaghoff

Cyrus Eshaghoff is a crazed sports and (responsible) betting fanatic. When it comes to his language proficiency, English is 1 and sports betting is 1A. Growing up in New York, Eshaghoff was naturally surrounded by Jets and Knicks fans. But if you ask him, his heart belongs to the Dallas Cowboys: America’s Team. The NFL and NBA are his favorite sports leagues to watch and discuss, but he also appreciates other leagues, including NCAA and UFC. Now that sports betting is legal in New York (and soon nationwide), he is truly doing what he loves, and will never have to work another day in his life.