Matt Blake is Mr Blackjack, founder of the hugely popular Never Split 10's channel on YouTube. The Online Gambling ambassador has been in the industry since 2013, using perfect strategy to help players get the edge across all kinds of traditional casino games – including his beloved 21.
Is Gambling Legal in Massachusetts?
Real money online casino and online poker platforms are illegal in Massachusetts, but the state has two physical casinos that offer all the poker, slots, and table games you would expect. Additionally, the gambling scene contains a ‘racino’ at Plainridge Park Casino (a horse racing track that offers slot play).
Two other horse racing tracks provide simulcasting for racing enthusiasts – Raynham Park and Suffolk Downs. Bettors can place pari-mutuel wagers both in person and online in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, the state provides a lottery at real-world locations, although online sales are currently unavailable.
For sports lovers, Massachusetts' gambling laws allow casinos, racino, and tracks offer in-person sports betting opportunities. Daily Fantasy Sports contests for cash and online sports betting are also expressly legal and Massachusetts online sportsbooks went live on March 10, 2023.
|Online Sports Betting
|Retail Sports Betting
|Daily Fantasy Sports
Massachusetts Online Casino Laws
Playing on an online casino app or website in Massachusetts for real money is illegal. Massachusetts General Law Chapter 23K Section 37 makes it illegal to play games with a consideration element for cash or other prizes of monetary value unless the entity offering the games has an appropriate license from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). In the United States, a consideration element is essentially something of value you risk in order to participate in an activity.
To date, the MGC has not granted any such license to any online casino operator. The MGC is not currently considering any such awards, either.
Additionally, 31 US Code Section 5363 of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act makes it a federal crime to play online slots and table games for real money if the games are illegal in the states where the play takes place. Online free-to-play games and sweepstakes casinos without consideration elements are legal, however, because the state does not consider them gambling.
Massachusetts Land-Based Casino Laws
In 2011, Massachusetts added Chapter 23K to its state code, authorizing up to three land-based commercial casinos and one racino. Over the years since, the MGC has granted licenses for three of those four gaming facilities.
Plainridge Park became the first gambling facility in Massachusetts in 2015, filling the role of the state’s racino. The slot parlor continues to offer thoroughbred racing as well.
MGM Springfield opened in the state capital in 2018 and Encore Boston Harbor started welcoming guests a year later in Everett, MA. To date, several parties remain interested in the vacant third casino license but lawsuits have complicated its issuance.
All three of these facilities started accepting bets on sporting events at 10am ET on January 31, 2023. They have also partnered with online sportsbook operators in Massachusetts.
Sports Betting is now live in retail locations in Massachusetts with Online Sports Betting soon to follow [Winslow Townson – USA TODAY Sports]
Massachusetts Sports Betting Laws
In 2022, the state legislature enacted Chapter 23N of the state code, legalizing wagering on sporting events. This Massachusetts gambling law allows for the operation of licensed physical and online sportsbooks.
Chapter 23N made casinos, racetracks, and the state’s racino eligible to take bets on sports in-person and contract with online sportsbook operators. Additionally, the MGC can award up to seven “untethered” (not connected to any physical gaming establishment) licenses for online sportsbooks.
The physical sportsbooks inside Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park all opened on January 31, 2023. The online sports betting market followed suit on March 10, 2023.
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Massachusetts Daily Fantasy Sports Betting
In 2016, Massachusetts added subsections to Chapter 219, creating a regulated system for Daily Fantasy Sports contests. The legislature amended that chapter in 2018, clarifying a legal separation between DFS and sports betting.
The Massachusetts Lottery is the second-oldest form of legal gambling in the state. Massachusetts began selling lottery tickets in 1971 after enacting 961 CMR the year prior.
So far, there has been no serious push to authorize the Massachusetts Lottery to sell tickets online.
History of Gambling in Massachusetts
As with many other US states, Massachusetts' gambling laws made most forms of gambling expressly illegal from the time of statehood through the early 20th century in Massachusetts. In 1934, the state added Chapter 374 to its code approving pari-mutuel wagering on dog and horse races to forever change that status quo. Suffolk Downs opened in 1935 and Raynham Park premiered in 1940 to take advantage of the demand for racing.
It would be almost another four decades before another expansion would occur with the addition of the state lottery in 1971. At the same time, Massachusetts gave each municipality’s voters the option to legalize charitable gambling within their townships.
That remained the situation for a further 40 years until Massachusetts legalised land-based casinos in 2011. The first of those would debut four years later with two more opening in 2018 and 2019.
In the midst of that process, 2016 saw Massachusetts embark on the digital age with the approval of daily fantasy sports contests. Massachusetts expanded upon that in 2022 with the legalization of both online and physical sportsbooks to complete its current gambling scene, with Massachusetts sportsbook promo codes now available to bettors in the state.
Massachusetts Gambling Legislation - The Key Info
|MA Gambling Handle (2022)
|Casinos and racino won $1.1 billion in 2022; Lottery reported $1.1 billion in profit for 2022 financial year; MGC reported $298 million in pari-mutuel wagering handle for 2021 financial year
|MA Gambling Commissioner
|Massachusetts Gambling Commission
|MA Tax Authority
|Massachusetts Department of Revenue
|MA Gambling Tax Percentage
|49% for slot games at slot parlors, 25% for poker, slots and table games at land-based casinos, 20% for online sports wagers, 15% for in-person sports bets and online DFS contests
|Link to MA Law
|MA Major League Teams
|Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, New England Revolution
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Massachusetts Gambling Legislation
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 23K Section 37
Section 37. (a) Whoever conducts or operates, or permits to be conducted or operated, any game or gaming device in violation of this chapter or the regulations adopted under this chapter shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 21/2 years, or by a fine not to exceed $25,000, or both, and in the case of a person other than a natural person, by a fine not to exceed $100,000.
(b) Whoever employs, or continues to employ, an individual in a position, the duties of which require a license or registration under this chapter, who is not so licensed or registered, shall be punished by imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 6 months or by a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both, and in the case of a person other than a natural person, by a fine not to exceed $100,000.
(c) Whoever works or is employed in a position, the duties of which require licensing or registration under this chapter, without the required license or registration, shall be punished by imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 6 months or a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both.
(d) A gaming licensee who, without the permission of the commission: (i) places a game or gaming device into play or displays a game or gaming device in a gaming establishment; or (ii) receives, directly or indirectly, any compensation or reward or any percentage or share of the revenue for keeping, running or carrying on a game, or owning the real property upon, or the location within which any game occurs, shall be punished by imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 21/2 years or by a fine not to exceed $25,000, or both, and in the case of a person other than a natural person, by a fine not to exceed $100,000.
(e) Whoever conducts or operates any game or gaming device after the person's gaming license has expired and prior to the actual renewal of the gaming license shall be punished by imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 11/2 years or a fine not to exceed $25,000, or both, and in the case of a person other than a natural person, by a fine not to exceed $100,000.
(f) A gaming licensee who knowingly fails to exclude from the licensee's gaming establishment any person placed by the commission on the list of excluded persons shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $5,000 or by imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 1 year, or both, and in the case of a person other than a natural person, by a fine not to exceed $100,000.
(g) Whoever willfully: (i) fails to report, pay or truthfully account for and pay over a license fee or tax imposed by this chapter or by the regulations adopted under this chapter; or (ii) evades or defeats, or attempts to evade or defeat, a license fee or tax or payment of a license fee or tax shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or in the house of correction for not more than 21/2 years or a fine not to exceed $100,000, or both, and in the case of a person other than a natural person, by a fine not to exceed $5,000,000.
31 US Code Section 5363
No person engaged in the business of betting or wagering may knowingly accept, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling—
(1) credit, or the proceeds of credit, extended to or on behalf of such other person (including credit extended through the use of a credit card);
(2) an electronic fund transfer, or funds transmitted by or through a money transmitting business, or the proceeds of an electronic fund transfer or money transmitting service, from or on behalf of such other person;
(3) any check, draft, or similar instrument which is drawn by or on behalf of such other person and is drawn on or payable at or through any financial institution; or
(4) the proceeds of any other form of financial transaction, as the Secretary and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System may jointly prescribe by regulation, which involves a financial institution as a payor or financial intermediary on behalf of or for the benefit of such other person.
Source: 31 US Code Section 5363
Is online gambling legal in Massachusetts?
To an extent, yes online gambling is legal in Massachusetts. Online Daily Fantasy Sports contests, pari-mutuel wagering on horse races, and betting on sports are legal. Online casinos and poker games for real money are illegal in Massachusetts, though.
What is the legal gambling age in Massachusetts?
The minimum age for tickets to the Massachusetts Lottery is 18. You must be at least 21 years of age to play for all other forms of legal gambling,
Is sports betting legal in Massachusetts?
As long as you are using a licensed sportsbook, yes. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission maintains a list of approved sportsbook apps and locations.
Are online casinos legal in Massachusetts?
Casino apps and websites that require you to use real money to play their games are not legal in Massachusetts. However, online slots and table games that are free to play are legal.
What gambling sites are legal in Massachusetts?
Daily Fantasy Sports contests like DraftKings and FanDuel, plus racing pari-mutuel websites, are legal to use in Massachusetts. As of March 10, 2023, legal online sportsbooks also became available in MA with Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel and WynnBET all taking wagers on the 'Go Live' date.