Last Updated May 24, 2022, 03:19 PM ET
On Thursday, April 28, 2022, Massachusetts lawmakers advanced the proverbial sports betting ball forward, setting the stage for legal in-state betting.
Both chambers of the state legislature agreed on legislation that would authorize retail and online sports betting in MA. Still, compromise is necessary for the Massachusetts sports betting bill headed to the conference committee.
The bill that materialized from a Senate committee differs from the sports betting bill already passed through the House in 2021. The central sticking point stems from betting on college sports. The proposed legislation addresses gambling addiction and supplies six operator licenses to manage online platforms and retail locations.
State Sen. Eric Lesser called sports betting a “top-tier issue” that Massachusetts needs to get right.
There are few U.S. markets as primed to open up as Massachusetts. Pro-gambling lawmakers are keen to welcome the best sportsbooks in order to recoup revenue currently lost to Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, and offshore entities.
Keep reading our Massachusetts sports betting guide to learn about its history and potential.
No, sports betting remains illegal in Massachusetts. The Old Bay State has received overwhelmingly strong bipartisan support from the House of Representatives and Governor Charlie Baker, but the Democrat-held Senate has continued to stall momentum, likely pushing the hopes for legalization into 2022.
Thrice has Baker filed and introduced a bill that would bring sports betting to Massachusetts, with his latest attempt coming in February of 2021 (H 70). This followed the introduction of five major sports betting bills in January, three of which came from the House and two of which from the Senate. At present, Sen. Eric Lesser’s bill (S 269) is the furthest along, currently sitting before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, although it hasn’t been amended since its March introduction. With the topic a lower priority on the Senate’s to-do list, nothing appears imminent as 2021’s fiscal year rapidly approaches its end.
Massachusetts was expecting to receive sports betting legalization back in 2020, but things went awry when the Senate opted to amend the economic development bill H 4887 without the sports betting language. While the Senate made sure to reiterate that it was in favor of eventually getting a bill done, it was against attaching a sports betting bill haphazardly onto the economic development bill.
In order to formally legalize sports betting in Massachusetts, the House and Senate will both have to approve a single bill. Following that, Governor Baker will need to sign off on it, which he most assuredly will. For now, though, Bay Staters and sports betting enthusiasts find themselves on the outside looking in until likely, 2022.
Multiple bills have been under consideration by the Massachusetts state legislature in 2021. But while the House has long been prepared to progress with legalizing sports betting, the Senate remains hesitant based on its numerous concerns.
Let's take a closer look at the Old Bay State's sports betting timeline:
May 10, 2022: WynnBET sees Massachusetts sports betting as a ‘significant catalyst’ for growth. On May 10, 2022, the casino and hotel operator reported the adjusted loss for Wynn’s interactive division, which houses WynnBET.
April 28, 2022: The House and Senate must reconcile their differences on revised sports betting legislation before Governor Charlie Baker, a proponent of legalizing sports betting, can sign the bill into law.
April 25, 2022: The Massachusetts Senate is on track to debate new legal sports betting legislation on Thursday, April 28, 2002.
Feb. 18, 2022: Boston-based DraftKings identifies Massachusetts as a possible landing spot for its mobile sportsbook during its Q4 earnings call.
Jan. 24, 2022: Gov. Charlie Baker reiterates his willingness to sign off on a bill to legalize sports betting should the House and Senate pass a measure before the legislative session comes to a close.
Nov. 18, 2021: DraftKings and the Boston Bruins announced a multi-faceted partnership, whereby the Boston-based sports betting operator will become the club's official daily fantasy sports partner and eventual sports betting partner, should Massachusetts legalize.
October 2021: Sen. Eric Lesser relays that the Senate has not yet come to a consensus on the topic of sports betting, despite declaring three months prior that his chamber was prepared to approve legislation that would legalize the practice. His version of the bill (S 269) remains under active consideration by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
July 2021: The Massachusetts House approves a bill (HB 3993) via an overwhelming 156-3 vote that would legalize sports betting in the state.
April 2021: The state’s House Ways and Means Committee excludes sports betting revenues from its forthcoming budget draft, adding yet another roadblock to the practice’s legalization.
February 2021: Heading into the 2021 legislative session, Governor Charlie Baker files and introduces a bill (for the third time) that would legalize sports betting in the state of Massachusetts.
January 2021: Legislators introduce five major sports betting bills, three by the House and two by the Senate.
November 2020: Lawmakers do not include a legalization provision in their 2021 budget, effectively ending any hopes for the arrival of sports betting in Massachusetts in 2020.
July 2020: The state Senate opts not to include sports betting as part of its economic development plan, as it feels attaching the two bills isn’t the proper way to introduce the practice.
May 2018: The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) overturns the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), enabling each U.S. state to formally legalize and regulate sports betting.
Currently, no form of legal sports wagering exists in the Old Bay State. Should sports betting land in Massachusetts, individuals 21 years of age or older would be permitted to wager.
Although some states allow players 18 and up to wager on sports, Massachusetts will not follow suit and will stick with 21 and up.
All betting is illegal in Massachusetts, thus no legal mobile sports betting apps are available. Provisions to authorize and regulate online and mobile wagering in Massachusetts are included within H 3974.
With limited retail locations, it's unclear whether you would have the ability to complete the registration process in-person versus remotely online. Potential partnerships with state-based teams, or the building of new casino facilities, will factor into the registration.
When Massachusetts regulates and authorizes legal sports betting, any wager made must be done so within its borders. Of course, those conditions also apply to in-person betting, but all online wagers must be verified in-state too.
Despite how the federal ban on sports betting has been lifted, no legal retail sportsbooks operate in Massachusetts. The state is currently the headquarters of DraftKings, though, one of the most prominent sports betting platforms out there, and should the activity finally become legal, the Old Bay State provides a fertile gambling landscape.
The stipulations of the House’s sports betting bill (H 397) include a 12.5% tax rate on any in-person bet and a 15% tax rate on any mobile bet for sportsbooks. Those figures are in addition to the 24% federal tax applied to all gambling winnings and a 1% tax that would be distributed proportionately between hosting facilities.
As Massachusetts continues to fail to implement legal sports betting, it’s been forced to watch tax dollars flow over state lines. Four neighboring states in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York all offer legalized sports betting markets.
The first three of those markets offer both retail and online betting, with New York the only one limited to in-person sports wagering. Options abound for Massachusetts bettors willing to travel, emphasizing its need to establish its own market.
Despite the existence of prominent bipartisan approval towards the legalization of sports betting, the state Senate continues to stand in opposition, primarily concerned with problem gambling and rules surrounding college sports. Sen. Eric Lesser, the co-chair of the Economic Development Committee, recently said this of sports betting: "I do think we're getting close, but I do think front of our minds and a big priority for me is going to be making sure those consumer protection and game integrity issues are really front and center."
It would seem likely that Massachusetts bettors will have to wait until at least 2022 before any serious movement is made. But even with the Senate’s hesitancy, the pressure is mounting to capitalize on a hungry market, with neighboring states offering alternatives, citizens and House representatives alike pushing for approval, and a massive sports betting platform in DraftKings waiting in the wings.
As the struggle to establish state-regulated sportsbooks carries on, details remain scarce. When and if wagering on sports does become legalized, both in-person and online betting would seem likely.
Choosing a sportsbook involves reading reviews from reputable sources. Those recommendations apply to the best bonuses, betting lines, and available bet types. We also advise new players, in particular, to read the fine print once sports betting becomes available in Massachusetts.
Registration in Massachusetts may carry an in-person requirement. If that is the case, you will be required to visit a retail casino or venue associated with a professional sports team.
If Massachusetts adopts online betting, you will have to share contact information and personal details, including your phone number and address.
Today's mobile sports betting platforms serve up generous bonuses, specifically welcome or sign-up promotions. Be sure to read the terms associated with each offer before moving forward.
Funding your sportsbook account is required before placing a wager. While the legal framework has yet to be determined, we can safely assume that Massachusetts sportsbooks will allow players to use credit cards, ACH transfers, and digital payment types like PayPal. Typically, the withdrawal options are similar or match those used for deposits.
Assuming legal sports betting touches down in the Old Bay State, sports bettors should have access to all common bet types. You're likely to have these types: moneylines, Over/Unders (totals), point spreads, parlays, teasers, futures, live bets, and more.
Not all sportsbooks are created equal, particularly concerning available betting lines. Some are less favorable than others; thus, shopping for the best price is critical. Conducting research allows you to nab the best lines and claim the better bonuses.
Wins are tremendous and only matched by the speed at which you can secure the associated winnings. On a related note, you may incur fees on transactions with the sportsbook or based on your preferred withdrawal method. Review the applicable terms and conditions to guide your decision-making.
American betting odds are the default selection found at U.S. sportsbooks, and Massachusetts would adopt that format, too.
Spot the favorite in any matchup by identifying the minus sign (-); the number immediately following the value displays the sum of money you need to bet to win $100. Here in this example, -170 odds mean you need to risk $170 to win $100.
The underdogs are identified by the plus sign (+) and highlight the monetary amount you would win if you wagered $100. In this scenario, +110 odds means that a $100 bet would return $110 in profit.
Input your selections to our odds converter to see potential payouts. Plus, you can toggle between American, fractional, and decimal odds.
Bay Staters do not have access to a locally regulated sportsbook. Should legal sports betting come to Massachusetts, wagering on all professional and Olympic sports will be in play, and likely college sports as well.
Wagering on political outcomes, like presidential elections, will not be permitted at the state or federal level.
Betting lines for celebrity-laden events and awards shows may be available from Massachusetts sportsbooks. It's too early to tell.
H 3974 includes provisions for regulated online and mobile wagering, but it's unclear where esports betting falls with regulators. Worth noting is that Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs’ company, Delaware North, is a partner of Splyce, a multi-esports organization.
College sports have been a point of major contention between the House and Senate when it comes to the legalization of wagering on sports. However, it is unlikely that Massachusetts, when and if sports betting becomes a reality, will leave its bettors out in the cold, as House Speaker Ronald Mariano has said that the notion of scrapping collegiate betting from any proposed bill “probably would be” a dealbreaker.
Eliminate any hometown bias by conducting relevant research on prospective bets. This is a great way to manage your bankroll and will help you to avoid blindly backing any team or player.
Review our how to bet guides for actionable intel aimed at new and intermediate bettors.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission regulates commercial operations in the state. There are a few forms of legal gambling in Massachusetts, including charitable gaming and the Massachusetts Lottery.
Massachusetts contains five casinos: Two operated by Native American tribes, two commercial resorts, and one slot parlor. Still, wagering on sports at these Massachusetts venues is prohibited.
Poker players can find a multitude of poker rooms in Massachusetts’ major cities, such as Boston. There are no state laws concerning online gambling that could lead to a poker player’s conviction or a fine. Private poker games are also entirely legal and only lightly regulated.
There is only one presently active racetrack in the Old Bay State, Plainridge Racecourse. There, legal pari-mutuel betting is allowed on horse racing. Simulcast wagering for both horse races and dog races is also available at two former racetracks: Suffolk Downs and Raynham Park. Since 1934, betting on horse and dog racing has been legal in Massachusetts.
In 2016, Governor Charlie Baker temporarily legalized daily fantasy sports (DFS) as part of a larger economic development bill while details like taxes and regulations got hashed out. Two years later, in 2018, a new bill was passed to make daily fantasy sports permanently legal in the state. Massachusetts sports fans can get their fill of DFS via industry heavyweights DraftKings, FanDuel, or the Monkey Knife Fight app.
To this point, there has been limited access to gambling within Massachusetts. Even so, there are many Bay Staters who succumb to gambling addiction. The Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health provides educational opportunities and support to raise awareness of problem gambling.Visit the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health
If Massachusetts eventually follows through with legalized sports betting, they would join the ranks of these already legalized states:
Although significant obstacles remain, Massachusetts gamblers should exercise caution and patience concerning legal sports betting. Bay Staters should refrain from registering with unregulated offshore sportsbooks due to their unlawful business practices.
Funding an illegal offshore sports betting site is playing with fire, as your funds and personal information are at risk. Please avoid these sportsbooks at all costs.
No, sports betting is not legal in the state of Massachusetts.
Sen. Eric Lesser’s bill (S 269) is the furthest along, and is sitting before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Should legal sports betting arrive in Massachusetts, you will have to be 21 years of age to take part.
You cannot legally bet on sports in Massachusetts. The pressure on lawmakers to change this, though, is growing.
At the moment, the answer to this is unknown. With the fiscal year winding down, it seems unlikely to arrive in 2021.
No, as all forms of sports betting it offers are illegal in Massachusetts.
No. All mobile and online betting is illegal in Massachusetts.
There are many outspoken voices in favor of legalizing sports betting in the Old Bay State. Gov. Charlie Baker is one, and the topic has significant bipartisan approval amongst the Massachusetts House.
Joshua Howe is a commercial content editor at Covers, assisting experts in making smarter sports bettors.