As more states introduce online sports betting, Massachusetts is one of the few New England states left without legal sports betting options.
While several attempts have been made to legalize sports betting in the state, none have been successful. However, as negotiations between the state House and Senate continue, residents may see legal sports betting introduced in the near future.
Here’s what you need to know about online sports betting in Massachusetts.
Recent News and Details About Sports Betting in Massachusetts
- Massachusetts nearly legalized sports betting in 2020 when the state House attempted to make sports betting part of an economic development bill; however, this effort failed due to a lack of support from the Massachusetts Senate.
- While sports betting is not currently legal in Massachusetts, horse racing and horse betting are legal. Residents can bet on horse racing in person at racetracks or through online horse betting platforms like TVG.
- Of the five states that border Massachusetts, four have already legalized sports betting, including New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Vermont is the only state bordering Massachusetts that has yet to legalize sports betting.
- The Massachusetts Senate recently passed its own version of a sports betting bill, though it’s different from the bill the House previously passed. The House and Senate will need to agree on tax rates, college betting, and other factors before sports betting is legalized.
- If sports betting is legalized in Massachusetts, residents may be able to bet on esports as well as traditional sports. H.3977 — the bill that passed the House of Representatives — defines sports 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.”
- College sports betting is one of the major factors standing in the way of legal sports betting in Massachusetts. The House and Senate have been unable to come to an agreement on whether college sports betting should be allowed.
Online Sports Betting in Massachusetts: A Timeline
There have been several attempts to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts over the past few years, and lawmakers continue to debate the best way to implement legal sports betting in the state. Here’s a timeline of the attempts to legalize it in Massachusetts:
- June 1, 2022: Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano states he did not see the purpose in the Senate banning college betting in its sports betting bill. The two sides will need to agree on these issues before sports betting is legalized in the state.
- May 26, 2022: Both the Massachusetts House and Senate appoint committee representatives for sports betting negotiations. The regular session ends July 31, giving both sides about two months to come to an agreement.
- May 17, 2022: The Massachusetts House rejects the Senate’s revisions to H.3993. As a result, both sides will have to appoint committee representatives to lead negotiations and attempt to come to an agreement on legalizing sports betting.
- April 28, 2022: After the House passed a sports betting bill last year, the Senate passes its own version, though it is significantly different from the House bill. The two sides will have to debate these differences before sports betting legislation advances.
- March 28, 2022: According to a poll by the State House News Service, at least 60% of Massachusetts senators support legalizing sports betting.
- 2021: There are up to 23 sports betting bills on file between both chambers of the Massachusetts general court. The House settles on H.3977, which passes through the House by a vote of 156-3-1. However, this bill does not make it past the Senate before the 2021 session ends.
- 2020: With two weeks remaining in the 2020 formal session, the House tries to work sports betting into an existing economic development bill. While the House supports this bill, the Senate’s revised version of the bill does not include any language related to sports betting.
How Do Massachusetts Residents Feel About Sports Betting?
Polls conducted over the past few years have indicated the majority of Massachusetts residents support legalizing sports betting — particularly if funds generated from sports betting are used to support education and social programs.
|Massachusetts Sports Betting|
|Poll Commissioned by Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor (2021)||61%||24%||15%||500|
Of the “yes” votes, 32% said they strongly support legalizing sports betting, while 29% said they somewhat support it. Meanwhile, 14% of respondents said they strongly oppose legalizing sports betting, while 10% said they somewhat oppose it.
Officials from Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor — the parties that commissioned the poll — said support for legalizing sports betting increased to 72% when respondents were asked if they would support it if the funds were used to support K-12 education or other welfare programs.
Are Daily Fantasy Sports Apps Legal in Massachusetts?
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) apps allow users to create fictional teams and compete with other users in daily contests for cash and other prizes. Many states that prohibit sports betting also prohibit daily fantasy sports apps because they consider them gambling, while others allow them because they consider them games of skill.
Daily fantasy sports contests are legal in Massachusetts and have been for several years, despite sports betting being illegal in the state. DFS apps were made legal in 2016, and major providers, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, are available in the state. DraftKings was founded and is headquartered in Boston.
Massachusetts Sports Betting FAQs
|Is online sports betting legal?||No|
|Is mobile sports betting legal?||No|
|Is betting legal at retail locations?||No|
|Minimum legal gambling age||21|
Editor’s Note: Information accurate as of June 2022.
Neighboring States That Legalized Sports Betting
While Massachusetts has yet to legalize sports betting, four of its neighbors, including Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, have legalized sports betting.
- Connecticut: Online sportsbooks began taking bets in Connecticut in 2021. There are currently only three online sportsbooks available, including DraftKings, FanDuel, and PlaySugarHouse.
- New Hampshire: Sports betting was legalized in New Hampshire in 2019, and mobile sports betting was introduced in 2020 with the launch of DraftKings. Residents can bet on all major professional and college sports aside from in-state collegiate games.
- New York: In-person sports betting began in New York in 2019, and online sports betting was finally introduced in early 2022. New York is already the biggest sports betting state by total handle, and residents have access to a wide range of major sports betting platforms, including FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, and BetRivers.
- Rhode Island: Rhode Island became the eighth state to offer legal sports betting in 2018, and the state introduced mobile sports betting in 2020. Mobile sports betting is conducted by the Rhode Island Lottery using technology from IGT.