Massachusetts Sports Betting

Sports Betting Live
Sports Betting Legislation Enacted
Sports Betting Not Live

Last updated: June 1, 2020

Status: Legal sports betting is not yet possible in Massachusetts.

ETA: Full sports betting was expected to be live in Massachusetts at some point in 2020 but it hit a unforeseeable snag when the advancement of the new bill was paused as the legislature’s focus shifted to addressing the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Massachusetts Sports Betting Timeline

Massachusetts sports betting has been, in some respects, a reality for almost a century. Thanks to provisions that allowed for pari-mutuel bets on horse racing and dog racing, locals have been playing the odds since 1934. However, when it comes to full sports betting, the Bay State is yet to embrace the post-PASPA era.

With the likes of New Jersey and Delaware already offering legal sports betting, many feel Massachusetts will soon do the same. But, as of May 2019, political talks haven’t materialized into physical action. Fortunately, the winds of change are blowing. In fact, an April 2019 deal between MGM and the Boston Red Sox increased the pressure on lawmakers to seize new opportunities.

The main reason for Massachusetts sportsbooks not being given the greenlight is the internet. Of all the bills currently under review, most have won support from the necessary powers. Indeed, Boston-based daily fantasy sports site DraftKings has been lobbying for change since the fall of PASPA. What’s more, Massachusetts has a long history of welcoming gambling change, as demonstrated by the 2011 Expanded Gaming Act.

However, as of May 2019, lawmakers are unsure whether or not online sports betting should be allowed. This, coupled with a debate over the potential tax rate, has led to a delay in any sports betting bills making a meaningful push through the political chambers. The good news though is that Massachusetts is still tipped to become a hub for legal sportsbooks at some point in 2020.

 

Massachusetts Betting History

Bucking the system has always been part of Massachusetts’ DNA. Ever since the days of the Boston Tea Party, the state has embraced its rebellious nature. As you’ll see in the timeline below, this attitude also extends to gambling. Despite many of its peers taking a conservative attitude to the industry, Massachusetts has been more liberal than most.

1739– Following a ban on lotteries in 1719, Massachusetts authorized its first public lottery in 1745. Another ban occurred in 1833 before the modern Massachusetts Lottery was created in 1971.

1934– Betting on horse racing and dog racing was made legal. The following year, Wonderland Greyhound Park and Taunton Dog Track became the state’s first racing venues. Dog racing remained a draw until it was outlawed in 2009 by the Massachusetts Greyhound Protection Act.

1947– With betting made legal, Harness Racing began at Bay State Raceway in 1947. Harness races were also run at Boston’s Suffolk Downs between 1959 and 1970.

2011– Following competition from neighboring states, Massachusetts enacted the Expanded Gaming Act in 2011. This law made it possible for three casino resorts and one slots parlor to open within the state. As of May 2019, Plainridge Park Casino (opened 2015) and MGM Springfield (opened 2018) were live. The third casino, Encore Boston Harbor is expected to open in June 2019.

2019– Sports betting talks gain momentum. Following initial interest in 2018, seven bills were submitted, including HD 2628 and S 903. Hopes are that Massachusetts sportsbooks will go live at some point in 2020.

 

Is sports betting legal in Massachusetts?

No. Although there is strong support for sports betting in Massachusetts, no bills have yet been accepted.

 

Who controls sports betting in Massachusetts?

When Massachusetts sports betting becomes a reality, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will assume control of the sector.

 

What is the legal age to bet on sports in Massachusetts?

The likely age for sports betting in Massachusetts will be 21 or older.

 

Where can I bet on sports in Massachusetts?

At this stage, the only type of sports betting you can do in Massachusetts is on horse racing and dog racing. This means you can technically bet on sports at venues such as Suffolk Downs racetrack. However, in terms of full sports betting, there aren’t any venues at the moment.

 

Who are the current operators/licensees in Massachusetts?

When sports betting goes live in Massachusetts, the likely licensees will be the state’s three main casinos as well as racetracks such as Suffolk Downs.

 

Which operators currently offer legal sports betting in Massachusetts?

None. However, when sportsbooks are allowed to go live, you’ll likely find them inside the state’s casinos:

    Plainridge Casino
    MGM Springfield
    Encore Boston Harbor
 

Is mobile and app sports betting available in Massachusetts?

No. In fact, the subject of online and mobile sports betting is one of the issues that’s caused a delay in any laws being made.

 

How much is sports betting worth in Massachusetts?

Without an active sports betting economy, it’s impossible to say. However, a white paper by Oxford Economics suggests that Massachusetts sportsbooks could add between $8 million and $15 million to a brick-and-mortar casino’s bottom-line.

 

What is the tax rate for Massachusetts sports betting?

This is a topic currently under debate. The potential tax rate for Massachusetts sports betting operators is between 6.75% and 15%.

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