Massachusetts Sports Betting

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Last updated: May 18, 2022

Sports betting currently is not legal in Massachusetts, but that could change in 2022.

The previous legislative session officially ended on Jan. 4, 2022, with no sports betting legislation passed by the Senate. That means Massachusetts residents will have to continue to travel for legal betting options. It so happens there are plenty.

Four of its neighbors — Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and Rhode Island — allow mobile betting in some form. With Boston less than an hour’s drive to three of the states, Massachusetts is losing potential tax revenue to these states.

The Senate appears to be back at the sports betting negotiating table after amending the House’s approved betting bill. The bills are substantially different, though, which means the two sides will need to negotiate the differences. Senate President Karen Spilka previously said sports betting is not a major priority for the Senate. Meanwhile, Gov. Charlie Baker, who is not running for re-election in 2022, said he would be happy to sign a sports betting bill before he leaves office.

With so many passionate sports fans in the state, lawmakers are undoubtedly hearing clamoring from their constituencies. Read on for all the latest news and updates on Massachusetts sports betting.

What’s happening in Massachusetts sports betting right now

  • May 17, 2022 – The House rejected the Senate’s changes to H 3993, setting the stage for a conference committee to hash out the differences between the two proposals.
  • May 10, 2022 – Wynn CEO Craig Billings said legalized sports betting in Massachusetts would be a big boost for its interactive business: “So with a bill in reconciliation between the House and the Senate in Mass now, we’re preparing to be there day one. That will be an important event for the business.”
  • April 28, 2022 – The Senate passed its version of sports betting legislation off the floor, but it is significantly different than the bill passed by the House last year. The two sides will have to agree on tax rates, college betting and more big issues that may not be figured out this year.
  • April 22, 2022 – The Senate Ways and Means committee favorably passed an amended version of H 3993 to the full Senate on Friday. Multiple significant differences remain between the two chambers with disparities in tax rates, licenses and a total ban on college betting by the Senate.
  • April 21, 2022 – Massachusetts could be one of the last two states along with Vermont without legal betting in New England if Maine passes sports betting legislation this session.
  • April 14, 2022 – Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said to “stay tuned” for sports betting legislation, according to the Boston Herald: “I say stay tuned. If and when the Massachusetts legislature decides to legalize sports wagering in Massachusetts it will be done very, very thoughtfully.”
  • April 8, 2022 – Will this be the last opening day for the Boston Red Sox without legal sports betting in Massachusetts? There has been no movement from the Senate on sports betting yet in 2022. There is still time since the legislative session runs all year but work would have to be started soon to have a mobile market live by March 2023.
  • March 28, 2022 – There is at least 60% support to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts according to a poll by the State House News Service.
  • March 18, 2022 – Another March Madness, another big sporting event that Massachusetts residents have to go out of state to bet on legally. The outlook for sports betting seems as murky as ever after Sen. Michael Rodrigues walked back positive commentary about passing a bill.
  • March 7, 2022 – House Speaker Rob Mariano told Bloomberg hearing how many Massachusetts residents went to New Hampshire to bet on the Super Bowl and all the money left on the table without legal sports betting is “extremely frustrating.” Mariano said he thinks the House has a good bill and is willing to negotiate but so far Senate President Karen Spilka is not.
  • Feb. 28, 2022 – There is another lawsuit to stop the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians from building a tribal casino in southeast Massachusetts, according to the Cape Cod Times. Whether or not this casino joins the other two casinos and one slot parlor could be significant for sports betting legislation, which might tether mobile access to licensed gaming operators.
  • Feb. 16, 2022 – DraftKings said 28% of its Super Bowl bettors in New Hampshire had Massachusetts addresses since legal betting is not available in the Bay State. Both Gov. Charlie Baker and House Speaker Mariano tweeted their support of legal betting on Super Bowl Sunday.
  • Feb. 11, 2022 – Bettors in Massachusetts will see another Super Bowl pass by with no legal sports betting available in their state. Luckily, bettors have four border states to travel to with full mobile betting. That means a bettor only needs to travel over the state line of Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York or Rhode Island to place their bets.

Is sports betting legal in Massachusetts?

Not yet. Sports betting is awaiting legalization in Massachusetts. Although state representatives passed a sports betting bill by a lopsided 156-3-1 margin in July 2021, the bill bogged down in the Senate amid the aforementioned budget concerns (or, more accurately, a lack thereof.) The Senate did have its own sports betting bill active during the same period, but it met with similar legislative resistance.

The status of sports betting in Massachusetts

Sports betting is on hold in Massachusetts. Although lawmakers in the Massachusetts House of Representatives came together to pass H3993 in July 2021, the bill ran into a roadblock in the Senate and progressed no farther. The abrupt halt was disappointing following a series of sports wagering bills proposed over the course of the 2021 legislative session. The other prominent bill in the 2021 session, S269, met a similar fate the same month.

The Massachusetts Legislature meets Jan. 5-July 31 in its formal session. While some lawmakers want to focus on passing sports betting legislation in 2022, there is resistance in the Senate.

When will online sports betting launch in Massachusetts?

Late 2022 at the very earliest. The death of both major pushes in the 2021 legislative session means that key lawmakers like Reps. Daniel Cahill and Steven Howitt, and Sen. Lesser, will have to go back to the drawing board in the new session. Whether they can muster the same levels of support is not immediately clear.

What is also unclear is the reverberating effect that the unexpected government windfall in 2021 will have on the 2022 state budget. Another year of budget surplus could produce a similar lack of urgency for any pushes to legalize sports betting — online or otherwise. After all, both failed efforts in 2021 provided for plenty of online sports betting opportunities.

Potential Massachusetts sportsbook apps

If and when Massachusetts passes a law making sports betting legal, the biggest names in the industry will be interested in taking part. Most of the list of sports betting sites below has a connection or two to Massachusetts, which could give them a good start on any licensing. However, we don’t know yet how many total sports betting sites Massachusetts will permit. Here is more information on the most likely sportsbook operators:

  1. BetMGM Sportsbook: BetMGM Sportsbook is the app representing the MGM Resorts International brand of casinos with MGM Springfield the local option. That connection is enough to say there’s little doubt BetMGM Sportsbook will want to be part of online sports betting in the Bay State.
  2. WynnBet: WynnBet is a relatively new app from Wynn Resorts. Wynn owns both the eponymous casino chain and the Encore casinos. The presence of one of those casinos in Massachusetts — Encore Boston Harbor — means that WynnBet has to be an odds-on favorite to launch in the Commonwealth whenever the time comes.
  3. Barstool Sportsbook: Penn National Gaming owns a significant portion of Barstool’s stock and uses the Barstool Sportsbook brand to represent its foray into online sports betting. Since Penn also owns and operates Massachusetts’ Plainridge Park Casino, it’s only natural to assume that Barstool Sportsbook will attempt to be part of the sports betting landscape in the Bay State.
  4. DraftKings Sportsbook: DraftKings has long been part of Massachusetts gambling with its daily fantasy sports products. In fact, the company itself was founded in Boston and continues to house its headquarters there to this day. DraftKings’ venture into sports betting in the past few years has been strong, and there’s no doubt that the company plans to launch its innovative sportsbook app as soon as Massachusetts law allows.
  5. FanDuel Sportsbook: FanDuel has carved out a space for itself in the Massachusetts gaming landscape for many years. With its corporate headquarters just down the road in New York City, there’s no question that FanDuel should have plans to launch in Massachusetts whenever online sports betting becomes possible in the Bay State.
  6. Caesars Sportsbook: Caesars Entertainment is the largest gaming company without a significant footprint in Massachusetts. It tried and failed to open a casino at Suffolk Downs in 2013. However, sports betting is big business for the company. Although both of the most recent sports betting bills failed in the Bay State, both included provisions for online-only operators to do business there.

Recent MA sports betting news

Massachusetts sports betting bills

Sports betting as an individual state decision was unavailable until May 2018. However, after hearing the oral arguments to the US Supreme Court in December 2017 against PASPA, lawmakers in many states began to introduce measures to legalize sports betting in anticipation of a favorable ruling from the Court. Massachusetts State Sen. Eileen Donoghue was one of those forward-looking lawmakers when she introduced the first sports betting bill in Massachusetts history in January 2018.

The bill never gained much traction. It did, however, touch off a slew of introduced measures that would implement sports betting in Massachusetts. The methods of the implementation varied from bill to bill, but they all sought to capitalize on the wave of sports betting spreading across the country. None of them have become law, though. Here is a list of all sports betting bills that have been proposed in the Bay State.

192nd General Court (2021 – Current)

191st General Court (2019 – 2020)

190th General Court (2017 – 2018)

  • S2273 – Donoghue
  • S2565 – Order to study sports betting accompanying Donoghue’s bill

Legal betting options in Massachusetts

There are currently no legal sports betting options in Massachusetts. That means that no matter what gambling venue you visit in the state – casino, lottery retailer, or racetrack – legal sports betting is not available.

The story changes if you head to New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut or New York, though. All offer online 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 consumers, 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.

Casino gambling in Massachusetts

While people wait for sports betting to become legal in Massachusetts, there are other options for gambling that are legal. For starters, Massachusetts is home to two full-scale casino resorts and a third slots-only racino. The locations, respectively, are:

  • MGM Springfield – Springfield
  • Encore Boston Harbor – Everett
  • Plainridge Park Casino – Plainville

There is the possibility that another location could join these three venues at some point in the future. The 2011 Expanded Gaming Act also allowed for a third casino resort to be built in the eastern third of the state. Various entities, including one of Massachusetts’ federally recognized tribal groups, has attempted to bring this venue to life in the years since, but nothing solid is in place yet.

Online horse betting in Massachusetts

Horse racing and horse betting are both legal in Massachusetts. The state allows citizens to bet on horses through online horse betting sites such as TVG. The site has a broadcast network dedicated exclusively to horse racing that offers advice to handicappers around the clock.

Plainridge Park Casino is the only location in the state to offer any kind of live racing and the pari-mutuel wagering that follows with it. The facility in Plainville offers harness racing between April and November. However, it offers slot play and simulcast wagering opportunities on a year-round basis. Two other locations, which are former tracks themselves, offer simulcasting as well. Both Raynham Park and Suffolk Downs are open seven days a week for off-track betting on races across the country.

MA and daily fantasy sports

Massachusetts has a credible claim as the capital of daily fantasy sports in the US. As we mentioned earlier, DFS pioneer and industry giant DraftKings came to life in Boston, and DK houses 650 of its key personnel in adjoining buildings on Boylston and Berkeley streets in Back Bay.

Legal DFS play in Massachusetts goes back to 2016 and is a part of daily life in the Bay State.

Massachusetts surrounded by legal sports betting

While Massachusetts residents are waiting for sports betting to debut in the Bay State, they have plenty of options in surrounding areas to place wagers in the meantime. Of the five states that share a border with Massachusetts, four of them have sports betting underway already. New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island each have multiple retail sportsbooks that you can visit, and all of them have online sports betting as well. The lone holdout for sports betting is Vermont.

If Massachusetts finally legalizes sports betting, the effect will be most pronounced on Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Those three states, particularly Connecticut, have long served as gambling getaways for the state and are in no hurry to see Bostonians and other Bay State residents stay home for sports betting.

The one item that might keep Massachusettsans on the road to Connecticut, however, is the presence of online casinos and poker rooms. The Nutmeg State completed a comprehensive overhaul of its gambling profile in 2021 and has more to offer than betting on sporting events. Of course, Massachusetts could make a move toward online casinos and poker itself at some point, but a secondary gambling expansion could be years away.

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 sports betting timeline

2021: Efforts to pass sports betting ramped up in the first half of the year. At one point, there were 23 different sports betting bills on file between the House and Senate. The House finally distills its movements into H3977. The proposal passes the lower chamber by a vote of 156-3-1. An amendment process and passage in the Senate is the roadblock for sports betting in Massachusetts since Gov. Charlie Baker publicly voiced his support for the activity.

An unexpected budget surplus disrupted the forward momentum of both H3977 and a similar Senate-produced bill. Senate President Karen Spilka declared sports betting to be on the back burner and named five issues of higher priority for the upper chamber. Sports betting dies in the Senate Ways and Means Committee and sends supporters back to the drawing board for 2022.

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. However, resistance in the Senate proved to be too much to overcome, and the session passed without a sports betting bill moving through.

2019: Multiple sports betting bills were submitted in 2019, though none received significant attention.

Massachusetts sports betting FAQ?

Who will be able to bet on sports in Massachusetts?

Barring some sort of unexpected push in future legislation, anyone over the age of 21 and inside Massachusetts will be able to wager on sporting events in the state. While some selected activities — lottery and pari-mutuel wagering — require players only to be 18, most gambling options in the state mandate that you be 21 or older.

What can I bet on in MA?

Based upon the bill that passed the House of Representatives, almost any sport. H3977 defined a sports event as “any professional sport or athletic event, collegiate sport or athletic event, motor race event, electronic sports event, competitive video game event or any other event authorized by the commission under this chapter.” So, even eSports and video game competitions are likely to be available for wagering in Massachusetts.

Are there any wagers that are prohibited?

Yes. As is the case in every other jurisdiction, betting on high school sports (or lower) in MA would be strictly prohibited. In addition, bets on individual players at the collegiate level are not allowed, including in-game wagers. Finally, it is not permissible to bet on “injuries, penalties, player discipline or replay review” at any level. Interestingly, the legislation also explicitly prohibits the purchase or use of athletes’ personal biometric data, such as their blood pressure, heart rate, or sleep patterns, in the aid of sports betting.

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.

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