Massachusetts Sports Betting

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mass sports bettingMassachusetts sports betting is looking more likely for sports fans, although there is still a way to go before bettors will be able to place their first bets in Massachusetts.

Although more and more states are jumping on the sports betting bandwagon and legalizing this popular pastime, some states lag behind despite improved public sentiment being for the activity. Massachusetts initially looked like it might have been one of the earliest legal sports betting adopters, following the example set by states like New Jersey.

But legislative hurdles have slowed down the sports betting legalization process so far. Although sports betting will likely come to Massachusetts eventually, it’s not clear how and when it will occur.

Let’s take a closer look at the sports betting industry in Massachusetts so far and explore how it might develop in the near future.

Massachusetts Sports Betting Recent Updates

Although Massachusetts can be thought of as one of the biggest states for sports in America (because it is home to the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots), sports betting legalization has been slow going. This is despite early attempts to legalize the activity shortly after the Supreme Court struck down The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, also known as PASPA, in 2018.

Indeed, 2018 saw the Massachusetts Gaming Commission release a preliminary paper that offered a basic roadmap for sports betting legalization. Multiple sports betting bills were proposed in the state legislature throughout 2019, although none of these progressed very far.

March 2020 saw Massachusetts’s Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies propose a new sports betting bill. It was also titled H 4559 by the time it reached the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

In a nutshell, this proposed bill would allow anyone older than 21 years of age to bet on sports in casinos and at horse race tracks. Massachusetts has a few retail casinos on Native American land. It would also legalize online sports betting. Total sports betting licenses would be increased to five in total.

But perhaps due to the COVID-19 pandemic or other factors, passing this legislation has stalled in recent months. The bill has seen significant modifications in the early part of 2021, in part championed by State Senator Brendan Crighton, who has been fighting for legal sports betting in Massachusetts for years.

The new and updated bill will increase the application fee from $1 million to $10 million and add a 15% sports betting revenue tax for online and retail operations.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives’ version of the bill was passed around over the summer. It reportedly allows for seven licenses in total, including one each for both DraftKings and FanDuel.

However, the Senate stopped the passage of the previous bill in favor of a standalone economic bill. Time will tell whether Massachusetts legislators maintain the momentum necessary to pass sports betting.

Review Of The Top Sports Betting Sites Coming To Massachusetts

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.

It remains to be seen how Massachusetts lawmakers will legalize sports betting and what restrictions or regulations they may impose. One likely possibility is the attachment of future sportsbook licenses to retail casinos. Massachusetts has three casinos: Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino. This means bettors could see BetMGM in Massachusetts. 

Under a traditional sports betting legalization format, retail sportsbooks may open up with licenses provided by these brick-and-mortar casinos. Furthermore, Massachusetts residents might see sportsbooks open up at horseracing tracks in retail formats.

Due to DraftKings’ presence and the popularity of online sports betting in general, it’s likely that any future sports betting legislation will include provisions for mobile sports betting. Indeed, Gov. Charlie Baker has already proposed that Massachusetts might make a good case for online-only sports betting, like Tennessee.

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.

How To Place A Bet In Massachusetts

If and 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

But it’s much more likely that Massachusetts sports betting will allow for online or mobile options. In these cases, players will first have to choose a sportsbook that they want to use and download it to their mobile device.

But there are slightly different processes depending on whether players have iPhones or Android devices.

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

Android users will not be able to download gambling apps of any type on the Google Play Store since they’re not allowed. Instead, they will need to visit the online or desktop site for their sportsbook of choice and download the Android app from a mobile or download page or someplace similar.

Either way, installation should begin automatically. Sportsbooks will automatically install geolocation software as well. This software will prevent users from placing bets outside of Massachusetts state lines.

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 their date of birth and physical address, both of which are necessary to verify that the player is 21 or older and that they reside in Massachusetts.

It’s expected that Massachusetts online sportsbooks will use the same kind of geolocation technology seen in other states so far. This tech will prevent players from placing wagers outside of state lines.

However, there is a possibility that Massachusetts sports betting legislation will require sports bettors to complete the registration process in-person at the casino or racetrack their sportsbook is partnered with. States like Illinois already have this limitation. If this is included in sports betting legislation, players will not be able to complete the registration process from home.

Fund Your Account

After registration is complete, players will be able to fund their accounts using a variety of deposit methods. Different sportsbooks have different deposit methods, ranging from credit or debit card transactions using Visa or MasterCard-brand cards, instant transfers through bank accounts, electronic wallet transfers via PayPal or Skrill, and so on.

Players will want to pay attention to any opening bonuses that may come with their sportsbooks of choice. Different sportsbooks provide different opening bonuses and site credit to help players make big wagers right out of the gate.

Note that funding your account is usually instantaneous, but withdrawals often take up to five business days.

Place A Wager

After funding their accounts, players will be able to place wagers using their downloaded sportsbooks right away. Different books come with different betting pools and wager types, so you should be sure to choose your sportsbook carefully.

Massachusetts Legal Sportsbooks

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
  • For another, 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 the 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

At this time, it’s difficult to estimate how much revenue the Massachusetts state government could expect after launching sports betting throughout the state.

However, 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.

Recent data indicates that New Jersey enjoyed some of its most profitable sports betting months in October and November 2020. October sports betting revenue neared $60 million and November sports betting revenue totaled $50.55 million. 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 if and when sports betting is finally legalized. In fact, this potential revenue is likely a big reason why state legislators are pushing for sports betting so enthusiastically.

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, eventual sports betting legalization is all but certain. The state’s population is not all that against gambling and state legislators are almost unanimously pushing for legalization sometime in the near future. The only questions are how and when that legalization will come to pass.

Massachusetts Sports Betting Successes And Failures

Massachusetts Sports Betting Success

Currently, Massachusetts doesn’t have any sports betting successes to speak of since 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 if slowly.

All of these are signs that it’s just a matter of time until sports betting is legalized. It’s likely that Massachusetts will launch sports betting smoothly and easily without major hiccups or issues for residents.

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.

Legalization Effort In Massachusetts

The legalization effort to bring sports betting to Massachusetts residents has been relatively consistent if not particularly successful. Initial outlines for sports betting launches throughout Massachusetts were already drawn up when the Supreme Court struck down the PASPA, indicating a massive desire to provide sports betting as soon as possible.

Yet the Massachusetts legislative bodies got bogged down in the details. For example, initial prospective sports betting bills began with details like a $1 million application fee for any new operators and a relatively low tax rate for online and retail operations.

This apparently displeased some legislators as the bill did not proceed until it was heavily modified to include an increased $10 million application fee and a 15% sports betting revenue tax.

Still, the state has had a few major sports betting champions pushing for legalization the entire time. Gov. Charlie Baker is one of them. He has specifically proposed that sports betting be an online-only activity in Massachusetts, although recent developments in the discussion indicate that retail sportsbooks are not off the table either.

Sen. Brendan Crighton has also been a big proponent of sports betting in legalization. He currently believes that 2021 will be a big year for sports betting in Massachusetts due to previous momentum and increased agreement between legislators about the details of the aforementioned sports betting bill.

Timeline Of Massachusetts Sports Betting

  • November 2011 – Then-Governor Deval Patrick signed the Expanded Gaming Act, which allowed three commercial casinos to be built in separate regions throughout the state
  • 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
  • March 2020 – H 4559 is the most recent sports betting bill to progress. It was passed to the House Committee on Ways and Means and includes several provisions, such as setting an age limit of 21 years of age or older and permitting online sports betting via mobile apps or web-based browsers. It also includes a limitation for five online sports betting licenses 

Massachusetts Teams

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). Since many Massachusetts residents are at least passing fans of sports, the markets should be quite big and varied.

Massachusetts College Sports Teams

It’s tough to say whether Massachusetts will allow collegiate sports betting. Many states have either outright banned sports bets on college sports or banned betting on in-state collegiate teams. Though no official word has come out so far, Gov. Charlie Baker has previously proposed a ban on all college betting.

The most recent sports betting bill to be discussed, however, only included a provision to ban betting on in-state collegiate teams. Either way, this would likely be a disappointment for sports betting enthusiasts. Massachusetts has tons of popular college sports teams and big followings. These include the:

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

Time will tell whether Massachusetts allows for collegiate betting or avoids it to prevent potential controversies later down the road.

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. 

Massachusetts Sports Betting FAQs

Is online sports betting legal in Massachusetts?

No, not yet. However, there is significant legislative momentum behind the push for sports betting legalization. It’s likely that sports betting will be legalized sometime over the next year or so.

Is it legal to bet on college sports in Massachusetts?

No. Sports betting, in general, is still illegal in Massachusetts. Furthermore, it’s unclear whether future legislation will allow for sports betting on college sports in this state.

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?

Not yet. However, DraftKings’ headquarters is located in Boston. If and 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 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 football (not soccer) and Gaelic sports.

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