Massachusetts Retail Sportsbooks

There’s a big irony in the Bay State. Although it offers several types of legal gaming activities and is the home of DraftKings’ headquarters, Massachusetts still does not have legal sports betting and retail sportsbooks for its residents. But there may be good news on the horizon!

Massachusetts currently has two commercial casinos in operation and a slots-only casino location. Recent legislation has also allowed a fourth commercial casino to start construction. This provides four sportsbook-ready spots for retail operations in the near future.

Over 20 sports betting bills have been introduced in the Massachusetts legislature. Of those, two bills (H.3993 and S.269) are in discussion. Time will tell which of these bills come to pass, but suffice it to say that things are looking up if you’re a fan of betting on your favorite sporting events and teams. There’s plenty of pressure in the government to get sports betting passed as soon as possible.

Let’s break down everything there is to know about retail sportsbooks in Massachusetts, plus explore how the industry could shape up once it is legalized.

Legal Sports Betting In Massachusetts

Plenty of lawmakers in Massachusetts are pushing for legalization. There’s some discussion about opening retail sportsbooks only, as well as the reverse. If retail sports betting legislation is passed, you could see retail books open up at each of the three commercial casinos, including MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, and Plainridge Park Casino.

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head has been in litigation for a gaming venue at Martha’s Vineyard since 2013. Sports betting would likely be a feature among other gambling features. The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the tribe must comply with zoning regulations set by the town. There’s a chance original plans may alter, which included a 10,000 square foot facility.

However, some of the above-mentioned bills have proposed that sports betting locations open up at horse racing tracks, sports bars, and other spots.

This type of legislation would be a dream come true for sports wagering fans in Massachusetts. The more places you have available to put your money down, the more competition there is. That’s a good thing for you since it means the books will provide better opening bonuses and better experiences to draw in new players.

At the moment, the bills to watch are House Bill 3993 and Senate Bill 269. The former is attempting to legalize both retail and online sports betting. Luckily, this bill passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 156-to-3, clearly showing the major support that sports wagering legislation has in Massachusetts.

The latter bill has not yet been voted on. It would limit sports wagering to 6 mobile licenses only. By comparison, it’s a much more restrictive bill. Check this page regularly for more Massachusetts sports betting updates and news.

The Types Of Bets Taken At Sportsbooks In Massachusetts

While sports betting isn’t legal in Massachusetts at this time, we don’t expect to see any major restrictions to the types of bets you’ll be able to place at retail sportsbooks.

There’s one exception in that the Massachusetts legislature may choose to limit collegiate bets. It could do this by banning bets on in-state college teams or games. Many states have adopted these restrictions to prevent corruption in the college sports industry. Time will tell whether Massachusetts’ future sports betting industry also includes this limitation.

For now, let’s break down the types of wagers you can expect to see at Massachusetts retail casinos in the future.

Moneyline

Moneyline bets are some of the most basic and popular, and for good reason. All you have to do is bet on which team or player will win a match, plain and simple. Odds are typically represented with basic numerals, like +110 or -150, which represent the odds for favorites or underdog teams, respectively.

Moneyline bets are great wagers to check out if you are new to sports betting and don’t want to put money down on a complex wager you don’t fully understand.

Spread Bets

Spread bets are also popular in sportsbooks across America. They require you to bet the spread by betting a favorite team to win in a match by a certain number of points. This means they went beyond their projected expectations to win.

Conversely, bettors can choose the other side and pick the underdog. This means if that team doesn’t lose beyond the allotted number of points, the wager wins. These bets are a little more complex, but still fun if you want to broaden your wagering horizons.

Totals

Totals bets are basic and often recommended as the next bet to try after moneylines as you gain experience. They simply require you to bet on the combined total points earned by both teams in a match. You wager that the total will be above or below the points predicted by the oddsmakers. If a total is a  complete number and the final score is equal to that, the bet is void.

Futures

Futures bets are fun because they often have the potential for high payouts. They concern the outcomes of future events, like the winner of the MLB World Series or the winner of the future basketball division.

Certain tournaments, like March Madness or a golf tournament, have plenty of futures bets to choose from. With these wagers, the earlier you put your money down, the higher your potential payout will be since the odds will be more against you.

Prop

Proposition bets (or props) are simplistic wagers that require you to bet on something other than the outcome or points of a match. For example, you might find a prop betting line speculating that a certain football player will make a touchdown.

Or you might find prop bets for things like the winner of the MVP award for the season, whether a particular baseball player will outperform their batting average, and so on. Prop bets are popular for their customization and uniqueness compared to other wagers.

Parlay

Parlay bets are often found at retail and online sportsbooks across the country. They involve multiple single bets called legs. To win a parlay bet, you have to get every leg of the broader parlay wager correct.

While these have lower than average odds of success, they also have higher than average payouts since you technically have to get multiple bets right to win. Note that parlay bets are usually only pursued by experienced bettors who know how to weigh odds in their heads capably.

Massachusetts Sports Betting Guide

While sports betting is at least several months away in Massachusetts, let’s break down what you need to know in order to navigate the upcoming industry and so you know what sportsbook apps are likely to apply for licensure. 

Massachusetts Sports Betting Timeline

  • March 2020 – The Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies is formed and begins working on sports betting legislation to launch a robust industry in Massachusetts
  • Jan 6, 2021 – Massachusetts lawmakers are permitted to reintroduce past bills or come up with new bills for sports betting legalization, causing over 20 to arrive at the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives
  • Feb 1, 2021 – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker introduces HB 70. This would have expanded sports wagering in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and included details such as a $100,000 application fee for operators and a gross gaming revenue tax rate for in-person bets of 10%. Unfortunately, it did not get very far
  • April 1, 2021 – The proposed 2022 fiscal budget for Massachusetts doesn’t include sports betting revenue, which is not a good sign for fans of this activity
  • July 22, 2021 – The Massachusetts House of Representatives passes HB 3977 with a vote of 156-to-3

The 3 Best Online Sports Betting Apps In Massachusetts

It’s tough to say which sportsbooks will come to Massachusetts in the future given the “up in the air” nature of the industry as it stands today. However, we can make a few predictions based on factors like geographic proximity.

DraftKings is a no-brainer. We definitely expect this sports betting app to come to Massachusetts as soon as possible given its headquarters location in Boston. DraftKings would be a fantastic offering to Massachusetts residents, as this mobile app is well known for its exceptional market depth and variety, phenomenal performance, and excellent odds boosts and promotional opportunities.

FanDuel may also crop up in Massachusetts at the opportunity. This sportsbook app is known for its generous opening bonus (a risk-free bet worth up to $1000), excellent and player-friendly odds, and live betting that is almost unbeatable anywhere else. The app also comes with a great interface and smooth operation, even on days with a lot of online traffic.

We might also see Barstool Sportsbook. This lesser-known operator is owned by Penn National Gaming, which also owns Plainridge Park Casino. Given this connection, it seems obvious that Penn National will try to launch its own sportsbook, at least in a retail capacity, at the earliest opportunity.

Still, other sportsbook operators from these could apply for and receive licensure once the sports betting industry launches. Check this page frequently for more information as it develops!

The 3 Most Popular Sports For Sports Bettors In Massachusetts

As far as popular sports go, the classic American trifecta baseball, football, and basketball are sure to be popular sports for bettors in Massachusetts. Massachusetts is home to three major professional sports franchises in each of those sports: the New England Patriots for football, the Boston Red Sox for baseball, and the Boston Celtics for basketball.

Be prepared for promotional opportunities, special betting lines, and marketing campaigns to revolve around each of these sports once sportsbook platforms or retail locations are announced. Depending on how sports betting legalization goes, certain sportsbook operators can also partner with the above franchises, making these sports even more popular leagues in which to place your wagering cash.

Retail Sports Betting In Massachusetts FAQs

Can you gamble on sports in Massachusetts?

Not yet. This is a big irony since DraftKings, one of the nation’s biggest sports betting operators, has its headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts.

Are there any Massachusetts casinos with sportsbooks?

No, but there are three Massachusetts commercial casinos where retail sportsbooks could hypothetically launch. The casinos may partner with major operators like the above-mentioned DraftKings, FanDuel, or more to hit the ground running once the industry launches.

How old will I have to be to enter a Massachusetts sportsbook?

You’ll likely need to be 21 years of age or older. This is the legal age of entrance for Massachusetts casinos. You’ll have to match it if you want to visit the retail sportsbooks’ premises.

Will you be able to bet on horse racing at Massachusetts sportsbooks?

Probably. Horse race wagering is currently active in Massachusetts, and the state has a long and storied history with horse racing as a pastime. We’d be very surprised if you weren’t able to bet on horse racing in some capacity if sports betting is legalized as well.

Do I have to pay taxes on winnings from sports betting in Massachusetts?

Not yet, but you probably will. There’s no telling which tax rate you’ll have to stomach once sports betting launches. Given the trends seen in other states, the tax rate could be as low as 8% or as high as 20%. It all depends on what the legislature decides.

Is live betting or in-game betting offered at Massachusetts sportsbook locations?

Not yet. However, live betting is now a staple of mobile sports wagering and is even present in many brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. We’d be very surprised to find that live betting isn’t offered at sportsbook locations in Massachusetts.

Is DraftKings offering sports betting in Massachusetts?

No, but it has its headquarters in Boston and currently offers DFS or daily fantasy sports to Massachusetts residents. Expect DraftKings to be among the first sportsbooks to launch in the Bay State.

Is FanDuel offering sports betting in Massachusetts?

Not yet, but like DraftKings, FanDuel offers daily fantasy sports to Massachusetts residents. It’ll probably be one of the first sportsbooks to receive licensure once the sports betting industry is finalized.

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.