Massachusetts Sports Betting

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mass sports betting

Massachusetts sports betting could come to the state in 2022. On Aug. 1, 2022, it was announced that the Sports Betting Conference Committee reached an agreement on legislation to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts, putting legal sportsbooks on a path to launch in the Bay State after more than a year of negotiation.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed the legislation into law on Aug. 10, 2022. Massachusetts joins Maine and Kansas as states to legalize sports betting in in 2022.

When will Massachusetts sports betting launch? Now that the bill is signed, the licensing process will start. But, rumors are there could be legal sports betting apps by the end of the year, or early 2023.

When Will Massachusetts Sports Betting Launch?

A launch date for legal sports betting in Massachusetts has yet to be determined although commissioners have indicated the process would take around six-to-nine months. During its meeting on Sept. 8, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) said that despite prior media reports, sports betting in the state will not launch during the early portion of the NFL season.

“We know that the NFL kicks off tonight. And that, due to the nature of sports wagering, interest is piqued,” Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said during the meeting. “Our process will play out as it would have whenever this law came to the Gaming Commission to regulate and we will not compromise getting this right for anything. With that said, we also are aware of the import of timing.”

During a Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting on Sept. 22, representatives from top sportsbooks and casinos vying for spots in the state’s sports betting market pushed for a universal launch date for all operators.

“By setting a date that operators can work towards … setting that expectation and allowing them to work towards that, we have found that’s the most efficient way to launch a market,” said DraftKings Sr. Director of Legal Affairs Chris Cipolla.

Up to 20 total sportsbooks could potentially launch.

Massachusetts Sports Betting Updates

  • September 22, 2022:

    At a roundtable meeting in Boston, FanDuel, BetMGM, Bally’s, and Fanatics were among several potential Massachusetts operators that advised the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) against issuing more temporary mobile sports betting licenses than the full market can hold. No more than seven permanent mobile licenses can be issued by law to operators that aren’t tied to a casino or simulcast facility.

  • September 15, 2022:

    Massachusetts sports betting hit a snag due to the lack of an apparent cap on temporary licenses for untethered mobile apps.  Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) executive director Karen Wells warned during a MGC public meeting that untethered apps that are issued temporary licenses to operate independent of brick-and-mortar casinos or simulcast halls will be shut down if they aren’t ultimately issued one of seven full licenses for untethered mobile sports betting available under the 2022 law.

  • September 13, 2022:

    Sports betting advertising recommendations pending in Massachusetts are looking prohibit any bettors not of a legal age. The recommendations would beef up existing Massachusetts gaming regulations that prohibit marketing and advertising aimed at persons under age 21 and persons on voluntary self-exclusion lists.

  • September 11, 2022:

    Plans to restore live Thoroughbred racing in New England could manifest as early as next year, Bloodhorse.com reports. An official with the New England affiliate of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association confirmed to Bloodhorse that Commonwealth Equine and Agricultural Center, a group headed by former Suffolk Downs owner Richard Fields, is in the process of purchasing a 360-acre property in Massachusetts and will apply to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) for a license to operate a limited meet in 2023.

  • September 9, 2022:

    Legal sports betting in Massachusetts is projected to have “far less impact economically” than the state’s two other legal types of gambling – casinos and the lottery, according to a study by researchers with the University of Massachusetts-based Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) project.

  • September 8, 2022:

    Progress continues with Massachusetts sports betting as state gaming regulators used emergency rules to expedite the first of hundreds of regulations required under the commonwealth’s 2022 sports betting law. The regulation adopted by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission allows the agency to certify and contract with the nation’s two leading independent casino and sports wagering equipment testing labs to ensure the integrity of potential Massachusetts sports betting operators.

  • September 1, 2022:

    Massachusetts sports betting took another step forward as 42 companies officially notified the commonwealth of their intent to seek a sports betting license in the coming weeks.

  • August 25, 2022:

    Nearly a dozen companies have formally expressed interest in a Massachusetts sports betting license since regulators began soliciting information. Among the online sportsbooks that have submitted notices of intent to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission are Bally’s, PointsBet, DraftKings, and Wynn Bet.

  • August 22, 2022:

    Ahead of the first stakeholder roundtable being held by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) focused on sports wagering, MGC released a notice of Intent asking that sports betting operators provisionally interested in acquiring a license complete the form by the close of August 2022.

  • August 10, 2022:

    Massachusetts sports betting is signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker.

  • August 1, 2022:

    Sports betting in Massachusetts took a step closer to becoming reality. House Speaker Ron Mariano announced on Twitter that the Sports Betting Conference Committee had reached an agreement to legalize professional and collegiate sports in Massachusetts. If signed by Gov. Charlie Baker, Massachusetts will join 30 other states and Washington D.C. in legalizing sports betting.

Top Massachusetts Sports Betting Apps

Massachusetts sports betting will bring more than 20 legal sportsbooks to the Bay State – including 15 mobile sports betting apps, eight of which have to partner with existing brick-and-mortar gaming facilities in the state. Here are the most likely online sportsbooks to come to the state:

  • DraftKings Sportsbook Massachusetts: With its headquarters in Massachusetts, DraftKings is all but guaranteed a spot.
  • BetMGM Massachusetts: Given the presence of MGM Springfield, BetMGM Sportsbook will likely be one of the first to launch in Massachusetts.
  • FanDuel Sportsbook Massachusetts: Alongside DraftKings, FanDuel is usually one of the first to launch in states that legalize online sports betting.
  • Barstool Sportsbook: Given the fact that Penn National Gaming, which owns Barstool Sportsbook, operates Plainridge Park Casino, this is yet another almost certain Massachusetts online sports betting app.
  • WynnBet: Wynn Resorts owns Encore Boston Harbor

For now, there are no sportsbooks in Massachusetts whatsoever, not even at the retail casino sites that dot the state. This is ironic given that DraftKings – one of the biggest names in the sports betting industry – has its headquarters in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has three retail casinos:

  • Encore Boston Harbor
  • MGM Springfield
  • Plainridge Park Casino

Rebecca Hanchett reports that a big predictor of which online sportsbooks are coming to Massachusetts could be which sportsbooks are performing well in New York. Mobile sports betting handle in the Empire State has totaled over $1 billion a month since launching in January.

The MGC is still debating whether it will stagger the launch of retail and mobile sports betting, or allow retail and mobile to launch simultaneously. Ultimately, we will have to wait to see how legislative developments proceed before we can make any concrete predictions about the future Massachusetts sports betting market.

The Path to Legal Sports Betting in Massachusetts

Sen. Eric Lesser aimed to legalize Massachusetts sports betting this year, a goal that became realized when state lawmakers reached an agreement just before the end of the current legislation session on July 31, 2022. The bill passed by a 36-4 vote.

A top sticking point had been collegiate sports betting. Sports betting will be allowed on out-of-state college and universities only, unless a Massachusetts college or university is participating in a national tournament.

The legislation approved by Massachusetts lawmakers is expected to allow sports betting in the Bay State through licensed casinos and horse racetracks. Casinos specifically are expected to partner with at least one sportsbook – including their retail sportsbook – through the company that operates their casino, where possible.

Online sportsbooks will be taxed at 20% of their adjusted gross revenues. Retail sportsbook revenues will be taxed at 15%.

The commonwealth’s 2022 sports betting bill will allow retail or online sportsbooks to launch under a temporary license for a $1 million fee. A permanent license will run $5 million, renewable after five years for another five years.

Under Massachusetts’ sports betting bill, up to seven licenses will be granted to sportsbooks not tethered to casinos or racetracks. Casinos, racetracks, or simulcast facilities will not be allowed to partner with sportsbooks holding one of those seven stand-alone licenses.

Vendor sports betting regulations may be among the first rules drafted, Rebecca Hanchett reports. MGC Executive Director Karen Wells told the commission having regulations in place for gaming vendors – such as server companies and geolocation vendors – is expected to help sports betting licensees with procurement, should supply-chain disruptions continue.

Are Off-Shore Betting Apps Safe?

Ultimately, it’s a better idea to wait for legal sports betting to come to Massachusetts than it is to use an illegal or offshore site. There are a few major reasons for this:

  • For one, offshore and illegal sportsbooks don’t have reputable digital security. There’s nothing stopping them from taking advantage of your funding or abusing your personal information, such as by selling it on the black market
  • Illegal sportsbooks are not on the hook to honor your wagers or provide you with your winnings in the same way that a licensed sportsbook operator is. There’s no one to turn to if an illegal sportsbook cheats you out of your money
  • Lastly, offshore sportsbooks don’t usually have player-friendly odds or good wager types. They may not use official league data when calculating their odds and you’re betting pools may be smaller than average

All in all, offshore and illegal sportsbooks are always a bad idea. While the wait for legal sports betting in Massachusetts has been long, it’ll be well worth it in the end.

Licensed and regulated sportsbooks have top-tier digital security, will be overseen and regulated by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and provide sports bettors with player-friendly odds and entertaining wagering opportunities. 

Massachusetts Sports Betting Revenue

While it is difficult to estimate just how much revenue the Massachusetts state government could expect after launching sports betting throughout the state, a recent study sheds light on both the social and economic impact of the industry. 

According to researchers with the University of Massachusetts-based Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) project, the estimated tax revenue from legal sports betting in Massachusetts is anywhere between $8.6 million and $63 million annually, depending on tax rate scenarios – which pales in comparison to the $1.1 billion in revenues from the lottery and $168 million from casinos in the state in 2019. The SEIGMA report was ordered by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) as it creates the licensing process and the rules and regulations to roll out sports betting in the Commonwealth.

New Jersey – one of the earliest states to legalize sports betting in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturn of PASPA – already has earnings reports from its sports betting industry. New Jersey’s earnings can serve as a hypothetical benchmark with which to compare future Massachusetts sports betting earnings.

The two states have similar populations and are in the same geographic area. They also have big focuses on American sports like baseball and football, so it’s likely that Massachusetts residents will place sports wagers at the same frequency as New Jersey sports bettors.

New Jersey has enjoyed some of its most profitable sports betting months since last Fall. March sports betting handle exceeded $1 billion. All told, New Jersey’s state government has enjoyed fantastic earnings ever since the launch of its sports betting industry.

While it will take time for Massachusetts to build up to those numbers, it’s likely that the state will enjoy similar revenue numbers once sports betting launches in the state. 

How Massachusetts Compares To Other States

Compared to other states, Massachusetts is far from strict. For instance, Massachusetts has a thriving horse race betting scene. The state has had a number of successful racetracks over the years, including Suffolk Downs, which operated from 1935 to 2019. Today, only one race track remains: Plainridge Park in Plainville. But this still allows horse race bettors to enjoy their favorite pastime without having to rely on online apps.

Players can also partake in online horse race betting using operators like TVG, TwinSpires, and BetAmerica. Massachusetts also provides three off-track betting parlors throughout the state. These are places where you can make horse bets without having to bet at the physical track.

Massachusetts also has a few casinos open for business. In total, the state has licenses for two active commercial casinos and another slots-only casino, though current legislation also provides room for a third commercial casino to be built sometime in the future. These casinos are:

  • MGM Springfield Casino
  • Encore Boston Harbor Casino
  • Plainridge Park Casino – this is a slots-only casino. It also includes some virtual table games

In addition, local Native American tribes are seeking a resolution toward a long-stalled casino build in Taunton. Therefore, more casinos could crop up over the next few years relatively easily.

Overall, sports betting legalization is all but certain. 

Massachusetts Sports Betting Successes And Failures

Massachusetts Sports Betting Success

Currently, Massachusetts doesn’t have any sports betting successes to speak of because there aren’t any sportsbooks open to the public. While there are offshore sports betting sites, these should never be used due to their lack of security and sketchy practices.

However, the state has successfully run several commercial casinos for many years at this point without major controversies. Furthermore, progress toward allowing Native American tribes to open their own casinos has been moving steadily (albeit slowly).

These are all good signs that it’s just a matter of time until sports betting is officially signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker. 

Where Could Massachusetts Improve Online Gambling

Of course, Massachusetts could be doing even better with online gambling by allowing it in the first place. At the time of this writing, horse betting is the only approved form of online gambling in the state, with the exception of the state lottery.

Massachusetts does not allow any online casino or card games. Players can only participate in these activities if they visit some of the above-mentioned commercial casino locations. 

Massachusetts could certainly improve by opening up legislation to include not only sports betting legalization but online casino legalization as well. Many of the operators that already provide daily fantasy sports in the state, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, will be well-positioned to offer sports betting and casino games quickly if they are ever legalized.

In other words, Massachusetts is poised to become the next big online gambling hub on the eastern seaboard, alongside states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But for now, the state has been relatively slow about launching its gambling industry.

Timeline Of Massachusetts Sports Betting

  • 2018 – Massachusetts state legislators looked at expanding sports betting as the Supreme Court struck down the PASPA
  • 2019 – It was throughout this year that the Massachusetts legislature proposed multiple possible sports betting bills. None of these progressed out of the committee phase and were individually struck down due to minor disagreements about the details
  • 2020 – Early legislative momentum for legal sports betting came to a grinding halt as the state reprioritized its focus on tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
  • 2021 – Over a dozen sports betting bills have been introduced since the 2021 legislative session began on January 6. The most promising for sports bettors and operators is H. 3974. It would tax retails sports betting revenue at 12.5% and mobile betting revenue at 15%, creating an enormously competitive market.
  • 2022 – S.2844 passes through the Senate and moves to the House. An agreement on the legislation was then reached by state lawmakers on Beacon Hill, putting legal sportsbooks on a path to launch.

Massachusetts Professional Sports Teams

Many people are eagerly awaiting sports betting’s launch in Massachusetts in part because it has a wide range of professional sports teams and associated fans. Though Massachusetts overall is small, Boston is one of the biggest cities and it alone hosts five professional sports franchises. These include:

  • The New England Patriots, an NFL team
  • The New England Revolution, an MLS team
  • The Boston Celtics, an NBA team
  • The Boston Bruins, an NHL team
  • The Boston Red Sox, an MLB team

All of these teams have reached national acclaim at one time or another in their respective sports. Furthermore, Boston is home to the historic Fenway Park, which is arguably one of the most famous baseball stadiums in the country.

Overall, future sports betting apps or retail sportsbooks will allow players to place wagers on most major sports leagues, including basketball, football, baseball, hockey, soccer, and even eSports (depending on the app). Because many Massachusetts residents are at least passing fans of sports, the markets should be quite big and varied.

Massachusetts College Sports Teams

On Aug. 1, 2022, it was announced that the Sports Betting Conference Committee had reached an agreement on legislation to legalize both professional and collegiate sports betting in Massachusetts. It will include a ban on in-state college teams except when they are playing in tournaments.

Reaching an agreement on college sports betting in Massachusetts was one of the biggest hurdles to reconciling a sports betting bill passed overwhelmingly by the Massachusetts House last July and amended by the Senate on April 28.  The House last year included college sports betting in its bill. The Senate this year did not.

Many states have either outright banned sports bets on college sports or banned betting on in-state collegiate teams.

Massachusetts has tons of popular college sports teams and big followings. Among others, these include:

  • Harvard University Crimson
  • Boston College Eagles
  • Boston University Terriers
  • Northeastern University Huskies
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks

Many states with online sports betting allow betting on college sports on all schools except those located in-state. Massachusetts will likely do the same or allow betting on all colleges, including in-state schools. 

Other Sports To Bet On In Massachusetts

As mentioned earlier, Massachusetts is also a big state for horse betting even though it only has a single operating track these days. Online horserace betting is already provided via operators like TVG. But new sportsbook operators may also provide horse bets to racing fans if and when they launch across the state. 

How To Place A Bet In Massachusetts

When sportsbooks come to Massachusetts, players will have a number of ways to place bets.

Visit a Retail Casino or Horserace Track

Should Massachusetts legislation only provide licensure for retail sportsbooks, players will need to place bets by visiting casinos or horse race tracks in person. Before they place a bet, they’ll need to show their ID to prove that they are 21 years of age or older.

Note that this format necessarily requires players to show up before or during games depending on the types of wagers they want to place.

Choose And Download A Sportsbook App

It’s likely that Massachusetts will allow for online sports betting apps. If that’s the case, players will first have to choose a sportsbook that they want to use and bet from there or download the app to their mobile device.

iPhone users can simply download their sportsbooks of choice straight to their devices by searching for the sportsbook name in the App Store.

For Android users, the Google Play store just recently allowed online betting apps, so some platforms are not yet available through Google Play. If that’s the case, simply visit the sportsbook’s website and download the Android app directly from there.

Register With Your Sportsbook

After downloading a sportsbook app, players will be able to register by providing some key pieces of personal information. This includes date of birth and physical address, both of which are necessary to verify the player’s age and identity.

You will then need to verify your account, which is usually as simple as email verification or text message code.

Fund Your Account

After registration is complete, players will be able to fund their accounts using a variety of deposit methods. While Visa and MasterCard are usually options, these can come with cash advance fees. It’s best to deposit using online bank transfer or PayPal, which usually do not come with fees. Both are also available for funding your account as well as cashing out.

Players will want to pay attention to any signup and welcome bonuses that may come with their sportsbooks of choice. Different sportsbooks provide competing introductory promotions, such as risk-free first bet and deposit-match bonuses, to attract new members.

Place A Wager

After funding their accounts, players will be able to place wagers using their downloaded sportsbooks right away. All sports betting apps will offer bets on major league sports and college events (if allowed). Aside from those, the options can vary depending on the platform, so check to make sure it has what you’re looking for before joining.

Massachusetts Sports Betting FAQs

Is online sports betting legal in Massachusetts?

Yes. Gov. Charlie Baker signed the sports betting legislation into law on Aug. 10, 2022. No timeline for the launch has been announced. 

Is it legal to bet on college sports in Massachusetts?

Yes. The sports betting legislation approved by state lawmakers will allow for wagering on collegiate sports in the Bay State,  although betting on games involving in-state college teams will be allowed only during tournament play.

How old do I have to be to bet online in Massachusetts?

When sports betting is finally launched in Massachusetts, sports bettors will need to be 21 years of age or older. This matches the age limit for most other online gambling activities throughout the US.

Is it safe to use an online sportsbook app?

Only if the online sportsbook app is licensed and regulated. Licensed and regulated sportsbooks are investigated before they launch in their licensed state. If they receive a license, they have a minimum amount of digital security, insurance for their users in case any winnings are lost, and more.

Is DraftKings legal in Massachusetts?

Sports betting is officially legal in Massachusetts, but no sportsbook sites have launched yet.  However, DraftKings’ headquarters is located in Boston. When sports betting launches, you can bet that DraftKings will be among the first apps to bring sports betting to Massachusetts residents.

Who regulates online sportsbook apps in Massachusetts?

The details about sports betting regulation have not yet been finalized. But it’s likely that the newly created Massachusetts Gaming Commission will be responsible for regulating all sportsbook activities in this state. It will work in conjunction with other regulatory bodies like the Massachusetts Lottery, as well.

About the Author
Amber Hoffman

Amber Hoffman

Amber is the Managing Editor of Gaming Today. She writes for a variety of websites in diverse industries, including gaming and travel and is a fan of international football (not "soccer") and Gaelic sports.

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