Sports betting is not currently legal in Massachusetts, but that could change by the end of the year.
Two of its neighbors, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, allow mobile betting. With Boston under an hour’s drive to either state line, Massachusetts needs to get its own betting laws on the books to keep tax revenue in the state.
The future of sports betting in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts legislature is again trying to legalize sports betting. There were multiple attempts to legalize sports betting at the end of the 2020 formal legislative session through an economic development bill.
The House gave overwhelming support for H 4887, which included mobile and retail sports betting. But the Senate refused to include any sports betting language in its version.
The Senate, meanwhile, has S 269 from Sen. Eric Lesser. A conference committee will likely be required to figure out a compromise on the details if S 269 passes as written. Both bills call for mobile and retail sportsbooks.
The formal 2021 legislative session runs through mid-November. An informal session adjourns Jan. 4.
When will online sports betting launch in Massachusetts?
Online sports betting is not yet legal in Massachusetts, so it’s hard to put a definitive timeline on its launch.
If sports betting is legalized in the state by the end of 2021, online sports betting would likely be live sometime in 2022.
Recent MA sports betting and DFS stories
Legal betting options in Massachusetts
There are currently no legal sports betting options in Massachusetts.
That means that no matter what legal gambling venue you visit in the state – casino, lottery retailer, or racetrack – sports betting is not available.
The story changes if you head north or south to New Hampshire or Rhode Island, though. Both offer mobile sports betting which means all a Massachusetts resident has to do is cross the state line to begin placing bets.
There are some online sportsbooks that claim they can legally accept bets from throughout the United States. But legal US sports betting is licensed at the state level, which means there are no legal websites in the US that can take bets from every state.
Betting with these offshore, unregulated operators could lead to issues when it comes to getting paid. Without a license to protect these operators could choose to not pay out winning bets or close the sportsbook without returning customer funds.
US citizens would have no legal right to try to recover the funds.
Most popular sports to bet on in Mass.
Massachusetts and its residents are well-rounded when it comes to sports. The state has a team in all four major US sports leagues and residents support all of them passionately.
The NFL‘s New England Patriots have been favorites of bettors for years, but whether that continues with Cam Newton at quarterback instead of Tom Brady is yet to be seen. Brady’s team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, could also be a betting favorite in Massachusetts.
But Massachusetts is far from a one-sport state. The MLB‘s Boston Red Sox kept their loyal fans waiting 86 years in between World Series until the team finally shook off the Curse of the Bambino in 2004. Since then, the Red Sox are more often than not in the running for a World Series win, which should keep them popular at the books.
The NBA’s Celtics and NHL’s Bruins have also had their shares of success over the last two decades. The Celtics won an NBA Championship in 2008 while the Bruins took home the Stanley Cup in 2011.
Massachusetts also has eight Division I colleges in the state, with two – the Boston College Eagles and the UMass Minutemen – playing at the FBS level.
MA and daily fantasy sports
While it isn’t sports betting, daily fantasy sports contests are legal for Massachusetts residents to enter and play.
That shouldn’t be a huge surprise. DraftKings is based in Boston, so it naturally has strong lobbying power in the state. So Massachusetts residents can take part in the daily contests posted by operators like DraftKings and FanDuel.
Is horse racing legal in Mass?
Yes, horse racing is legal in Massachusetts.
In 2020, Plainridge Park, the state’s only racino operated by Penn National, was the only applicant for horse racing.
Suffolk Downs, which was the site of a failed casino bid, has also offered racing and simulcast pari-mutuel wagering in the past.
MA sports betting timeline
2020: The House attempted to work sports betting into an economic development bill with less than two weeks left in the formal session.
The House overwhelmingly supported the bill with its sports betting language, but the Senate disagreed. Its amended version of the House bill included no sports betting language at all despite multiple attempts.
Sen. Michael Brady, who submitted sports betting language for the Senate amendment, told LSR sports betting would be discussed before the end of 2020.
2019: Multiple sports betting bills were submitted in 2019, though none received significant attention.
Massachusetts sports betting FAQ?
Is sports betting legal in Massachusetts?
No, currently sports betting is not legal anywhere in Massachusetts. It’s possible that could change soon though.
Where can I bet on sports in Massachusetts?
Right now, there are no legal options to bet on sports in Massachusetts. Legislators could eventually allow betting through lottery outlets, casinos, racetracks, and even online channels.
Can I bet on sports on my phone in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts has not yet legalized sports betting, so there is no legal betting on phones available in the state.
There are offshore sportsbook operators that claim they can accept bets from anywhere in the United States. Since sports betting is licensed at the state level, no operator can accept bets from all US jurisdictions.
There are dangers involved with betting through an unlicensed sports betting operator. The operator could choose not to pay out a winning bet. It could also close the sportsbook without refunding customers their account balances.
Anyone that bets with an offshore sportsbook operator is taking a risk of losing their money with no legal options to recover it.