Massachusetts Casinos

Massachusetts casinos are limited to just a handful (if that) in the state. Legal online casinos, on the other hand, are prohibited in MA. That’s a quick summary of the state of affairs in the Bay State, but since the gaming facilities are spread throughout the state, most Bay Staters live reasonably close to at least one.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts’ neighbor to the south, Connecticut, is the most recent state to join the legal online casino club. With that being the case, you may have questions about when Massachusetts might allow real money online casinos. In fact, you might wonder whether that’s already the case since web searches for “MA online casinos” return plenty of results.

The truth is a bit more complicated than that. This page is a one-stop resource for all questions about Massachusetts online casinos, including what options are available, how MA online casinos work or will work, and what some of the land-based gambling options are, too. Read on for all the latest about the casino scene, both online and retail, in the Bay State.

Is it legal to play online casino games in Massachusetts?

No. There are no online real money casinos that are legal in Massachusetts at this time. Any site that says otherwise is, charitably speaking, performing an end run around the truth. The semantic trick that such a site uses is usually a variant of the “neither legal nor illegal” argument. In other words, there is no law allowing online casinos in Massachusetts, but there is no specific law that prohibits playing on them, either. Because these casinos are in a sort of gray zone, people may refer to them as “gray market” sites. However, as we’ll discuss later, there are many reasons to avoid using these sites as a player or as a resource if you reside in Massachusetts.

When will Massachusetts allow online casinos?

Hard to say. The next piece of gambling expansion on Massachusetts’ plate appears to be sports betting, as a sports betting bill cleared the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2021 and the Massachusetts Senate in April 2022. However, each chamber’s version differs greatly, and the two legislative bodies must iron out those differences before legal sports betting can move forward.

Since lawmakers also had extra money because of an unexpected budget surplus, they had little reason to move forward with any other gambling expansion if they had ideological concerns or apathy about the subject.

So, until sports betting becomes legal in Massachusetts, it’s unlikely that any movement on online casinos will occur. There are no active bills in the Massachusetts Legislature that seek to bring online casinos to the state. However, budget surpluses usually don’t last forever, and it may not be long until gambling moves back up the priority list. Whether that will lead to online casinos is debatable, but the bottom line is that while there’s nothing terribly promising, there’s no reason to despair about the future, either.

Potential Massachusetts online casinos

Although we have nothing definite about a timeline for online casinos in Massachusetts, we do have a fairly good idea about which companies are the odds-on favorites to launch in the state if it becomes legal to do so. What we don’t know is how many online gambling sites MA will allow. However, these four have proven interests and links to Massachusetts and would likely be at the top of regulators’ lists for preferred online casino vendors.

DraftKings Casino

DraftKings was founded in Boston and continues to operate out of its headquarters in Back Bay. The company provides daily fantasy sports contests to people in the state on a daily basis and has become one of the best-known gambling companies in the country in the last few years due to its sports betting presence. DraftKings Sportsbook also offers a sort of two-for-one deal with its online casino offerings due to its acquisition of Golden Nugget Online Gaming, a powerhouse in New Jersey with experience and a slew of games to boot.

BetMGM Casino

MGM Resorts maintains a physical casino in Massachusetts as the owner and operator of the MGM Springfield. It seems likely, then, that a legal online casino market in Massachusetts would include BetMGM. The most striking thing about BetMGM is the sheer volume of online games that it offers. There are hundreds of slot titles of all kinds, including standard reel games, video slots and progressives like Divine Fortune and Cleopatra. BetMGM Sportsbook also has dozens of table games, including several variants of blackjack and roulette. There is an entire roster of video poker options, along with variety games like Slingo and virtual sports games to play.

WynnBET Casino

WynnBET is the online gambling wing of the Wynn chain of casinos, which includes both Wynn and Encore casinos. As such, Wynn already has a footprint in Massachusetts through the Encore Boston Harbor in Everett. Obviously, the owners of one of the state’s casinos would want to extend that business into the online sphere. WynnBET’s online casino site is an example of quality over quantity. It doesn’t offer an overwhelming number of games, but each one is beautifully rendered. The site has more than a dozen variants of blackjack and roulette. In addition, there are several other games, like Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Let It Ride and Mississippi Stud. WynnBET is also home to more than a half-dozen video poker games.

FanDuel Casino

FanDuel is a familiar name to many in Massachusetts due to its daily fantasy sports contests. FanDuel has expanded its business dramatically into sports betting and online casinos in the past few years, and a populous state near FanDuel’s own headquarters (in New York City) is likely near the top of its priority list. FanDuel Casino is another quality-over-quantity site in terms of the number of games you can find. Instead of an overwhelming onslaught of games, there are sleek versions of popular titles like Divine Fortune, Joe Exotic and Triple Da Vinci Diamonds. FanDuel even has plenty of options for Slingo fans.

Types of online casinos

Regardless of the legal status of Massachusetts online casinos, there are three types of casinos that you might encounter if you search online in the state. It’s important to understand what types of casino sites that you can find right now and, perhaps, in the future, so here they are:

Legal and licensed

Legal and licensed online casinos are not available in Massachusetts at this time. These are apps and/or sites that would be regulated entities within the state. They would have the same right to do business as any other corporate entity inside state lines. However, they would also be subject to rules and regulations that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission sets. The MGC maintains oversight authority over most of the gambling in the state. That means these online casinos have to meet higher standards for their business procedures and their reliability.

Offshore

We do not recommend that you visit or promote any offshore sites accepting players in Massachusetts. These sites are based outside of the United States and are not subject to Massachusetts or US law. They might have questionable business practices and little to no account security or game fairness. Because they are not under the umbrella of US jurisdiction, US players might also find themselves out of luck if they encounter a dispute or disagreement with one of these sites. Your best bet is to not play casinos games on offshore sites. It is not worth the risk.

Social/sweepstakes

Social and sweepstakes casinos are available to Massachusetts residents at present, and they are completely legal. They are also free to play, with no purchase necessary, though sweepstakes sites may offer some purchases for convenience. Some of them, like Chumba Casino, Funzpoints and LuckyLand Slots, offer a way to redeem your winnings for actual cash prizes, in fact. Other social casinos like Pulsz Slots and Casino are simply sites to experience some great slots and table games for fun and entertainment.

Land-based casinos in Massachusetts

Although an increasing number of people may head online for both work and fun, there are still plenty who want to gamble in person. Thankfully, there are a few options for those folks inside Massachusetts state lines. In fact, the Expanded Gaming Act of 2011, the law that enabled the placement of casinos in the Bay State, ensured that the casinos would be at least somewhat spread out.

The law allowed for each of three regions of Massachusetts to be home to a resort casino. Roughly speaking, the three sections are the western, eastern (including Boston) and southeastern portions of the state. Here are the parameters of the regions:

  • Region A: Suffolk, Middlesex, Essex, Norfolk and Worcester counties
  • Region B: Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties
  • Region C: Bristol, Plymouth, Nantucket, Dukes and Barnstable counties

The only source of confusion might be the fact that Region A is to the east of Region B. Region C is where you might imagine. So far, casino resorts have opened in Regions A and B. Region C does not have a casino, but we’ll discuss the reasons why in just a bit. Here are the details for the two casinos in Massachusetts.

Encore Boston Harbor — Region A

Encore Boston Harbor is the newer of the two locations. It sits on the Mystic River in Everett, almost due north of downtown Boston, and opened for business in June 2019. The Encore features 200,000 square feet of gambling space, with more than 2,700 slot machines, 188 table games and a poker room. The property itself is 33 sprawling acres and features a full-service hotel, spa, salon and more than a dozen places to eat or get a drink. Encore Boston Harbor also maintains a six-acre park called Harborwalk, which features walking paths along the river, tremendous views and connections to other nearby bike and walking trails.

MGM Springfield — Region B

MGM Springfield was the first full-service casino to open its doors in Massachusetts. The outpost of MGM Resorts in the Bay State cut the ribbon in August 2018 in Springfield itself. The site is on the north side of I-91 and just a minute or two away from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The property features more than 2,600 slots, 180 table games and a poker room with roughly a dozen tables. MGM Springfield also offers some distinct amenities. Along with a hotel, there is a Top Golf, a bowling alley, a movie theater and an ice rink on site.

Other gambling locations in Massachusetts

Along with legalizing three resort casinos, the Expanded Gaming Act also permitted a single slots-only casino. This means that a third property in Massachusetts touts itself as a casino, but it’s more accurate to call it a “racino” due to the activities that it offers.

Plainridge Park Casino

The Plainridge Park Casino is the slots-only venue in Plainville. The location is in the southeastern portion of the state, making it significantly closer to Providence, Rhode Island, than it is to Boston. Onsite, there are more than 1,200 slots available for play, including a selection of video poker, video blackjack and other electronic table games. Plainridge Park is also the only location in Massachusetts with live racing of any kind. Harness races occur between April and November each year, and the venue hosts pari-mutuel wagering on the races.

Off-track betting venues

Plainridge Park is also one of only three off-track betting locations in Massachusetts. The other two are former greyhound tracks that ceased their live racing operations in recent years. However, they have remained open in order to provide simulcasting for patrons, which they do year-round. You can visit one of these locations to bet the ponies:

  • Raynham Park — Raynham
  • Suffolk Downs — East Boston

Potential casinos in Massachusetts

As we discussed, Massachusetts law allows for three resort casinos in the state. So far, two of them have opened, but the disposition of the third property is a bit more complicated. There are two issues at the core of the delay in southeastern Massachusetts.

Resort casino issues

The first concern is the presence of two federally recognized Native American tribes that call that area of the state home. In theory, both tribes are eligible to negotiate compacts with the state to offer gambling on tribal lands. However, so far, only one has chosen to do so.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has been attempting to construct a resort-style casino on tribal lands near Taunton for several years. The project, dubbed the First Light Resort and Casino, has been aiming for a 150,000-square-foot casino with 3,000 slots, 150 table games and a poker room. In other words, the property would be of similar size and scale to the other two resort casinos in the state. The chosen site for the project, which is near the intersection of Routes 24 and 140, would place a major casino about 40 miles south of Boston and less than 20 miles east of Providence.

However, the federal government has not been terribly helpful or consistent in its recent dealings with the Mashpee tribe. The trouble began in 2015 when the US Department of the Interior agreed to let the tribe move its lands into federal trust. The placement of lands into trust is critical for assuring tribal sovereignty and paving the way for many tribal functions, including the construction of gambling facilities onsite. The Mashpee tribe began building the First Light almost immediately after the decision, but it was stymied by a 2016 court ruling that found the land placement occurred improperly. The DOI attempted to appeal the ruling, but eventually gave up the fight in 2018 and conceded that the Mashpee land remained out of federal trust.

To its credit, the tribe did not yield to the decision. It continued to lobby and argue that its reservation lands deserved the same credit and consideration as those of any other federally recognized tribe. After three years, the tribe ultimately prevailed in court.

The other issue at play is the economic viability of a third casino in Massachusetts. Whether the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe gets underway with the First Light — the most likely scenario — or some other company, like Caesars or Rush Street Interactive, does manage to open a location in Region C, there is concern that the region won’t generate enough income to support the operation. Critics point to the lower-than-expected revenues at the other two facilities as evidence that the market is saturated. However, the selected location for the First Light does open the possibility of substantial overflow coming from Rhode Island. While Rhode Islanders do have two full-service casinos nearby — including Bally’s Lincoln, which is comparable in size to the MA casinos — the novelty of a new casino property and its particular quirks could conceivably gain the loyalty of Ocean State residents.

At this point, there is no set timeframe for a third full-service casino to debut in Massachusetts. As the situation develops, though, we will keep our eyes on things and provide an update as soon as we see any significant actions.

The other proposed gambling facility

Now, as we mentioned, there are two federally recognized tribes that call southeastern Massachusetts home. The other tribe, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), has chosen not to pursue a compact with the state of Massachusetts for Class III gambling on tribal lands. Instead, the tribe has sought only to build an electronic bingo parlor on a vacant piece of tribe-owned land near Aquinnah.

In an echo of the situation with the Mashpee Wampanoag, the tribe’s plans have met with numerous legal challenges and roadblocks. However, the surprising aspect is the source of the pushback: the town of Aquinnah itself. Although a Class II facility and bingo seem harmless enough, it’s important to understand that the machines the tribe is proposing to use are more like slot machines than video versions of standard bingo. Thus, town officials have steadfastly opposed the construction of a new gambling venue nearby over fears about increased traffic and crime. For a time, they found success in arguing that a 1987 land deal negated the ability of the tribe to build the bingo hall. However, the Wampanoags secured a definitive court victory about their right to build the facility in 2017, thus clearing the way for construction to begin.

Unfortunately, there was a catch to the court’s ruling. Though the tribe is clear to proceed with construction from a legal point of view, it must still secure the appropriate zoning clearances and other regulatory licensing — and the town is in charge of those documents. So, unless tribal leaders and officials in Aquinnah can come to some sort of arrangement, the Wampanoag Tribe cannot expand Massachusetts’ gambling profile.

Types of casino games in Massachusetts

With two large full-service casinos in action in the Bay State, there are many types of games available to people in Massachusetts. The variety means that almost every person who likes to place a wager in the area should be able to find their game(s) of choice. Should MA online casinos ever become legal, the land-based versions of these games will most likely be available on the real money gambling site. Sweepstakes and social casinos usually have similar but not exactly the same games that are equally fun to play. Here are some short descriptions of games you’ll find at Massachusetts casinos:

Slots

Slot machines are a ubiquitous sight at Massachusetts casinos. Both full-service casinos and the lone racino in the state are home to more than 1,000 machines, and the two larger properties have nearly 3,000 each. Slots are popular with casinos because of their near-guaranteed returns and with players because of their chance of a big win. Types of slots in Massachusetts include the classic reel games (both three and five) and the more modern video slots. Some slots are even linked with one another and feature a progressive jackpot that can put life-changing money into the player’s pocket.

In addition to the traditional slot games, there are other electronic gambling machines available throughout Massachusetts. These machines include selections for video poker, video blackjack, video roulette and other electronic forms of common table games. Video poker, although often lumped together with slot machines, is distinct from reel games due to its elements of choice. Electronic table games are popular because they feature faster gameplay than their live counterparts and usually come with a lower minimum bet.

Blackjack

Blackjack is likely the most popular casino table game in the US and is certainly the most common. The game’s core mechanics are quite simple, and it offers one of the lowest house edges in all of gambling. To be perfectly frank, it is not a game that requires players to be completely sober in order to be successful. Blackjack players in Massachusetts can find a wide selection of tables available at either of the two casino locations. In addition, there are options for blackjack variants — notably, players can try Spanish 21, which removes the tens from the decks and comes with several side bet options.

Other table games

In addition to blackjack, other popular table games in Massachusetts include the following:

  • Craps: This dice game continues to be a popular choice for table game players, and it is most likely the source of any eruptions of cheering inside a casino. There are myriad bets available for craps, but the core game mechanic boils down to predicting whether the two dice will add up to seven — the most common outcome — or something else.
  • Roulette: This third member of the table game triumvirate (with blackjack and craps) appears in casinos around the world, including in Massachusetts. Roulette dealers spin a small ball around a bowl-shaped wheel with 38 slots — numbers 1 through 36, a single zero and a double zero — and players bet to predict into which slot the ball will come to rest. It is possible to find a few variants of the game, including European roulette, which plays identically to the American version but removes one of the zeroes.
  • Baccarat: Baccarat is similar to blackjack in that it involves drawing cards to add up to a particular number. However, in baccarat, all tens and face cards equal zero, all number cards are their exact value, and the goal is to get as close to nine as possible. The two sides of a baccarat game, dubbed the player and the banker, each come with their own unique qualities, and a baccarat player can back either side during a hand.
  • Three Card Poker: This game pits the player against the dealer in a contest to assemble the strongest three-card hand. Players make an ante bet, then decide if they want to fold and surrender their ante or place a double-value “play” bet to compete with the dealer. The dealer’s hand must contain a queen or higher in order to qualify — otherwise, the play bet goes back to the player and the ante is paid 1:1. However, higher-value hands for the player against a qualified dealer hand are worth payouts that are many multiples above 1:1, so it is possible to win big with this game in a short period of time.
  • Four Card Poker: Four Card Poker is similar to Three Card Poker in that you are once again trying to beat the dealer’s hand with your own. However, in this game, the goal is to make the best four-card hand, and while the player receives five cards in order to do so, the dealer receives six. In addition to the ante and play bets, this game also has a side bet called aces up, which offers extra payouts for four-card hands that contain a pair of aces or better.
  • Let It Ride: In Let It Ride, players are actually working in cooperation with the dealer, so to speak. The goal of the game is to make a five-card hand with a pair of jacks or better. You place three equal bets on the felt and receive three cards, while the dealer receives two cards facedown. If your hand contains a pair of jacks or better or, in some cases, you simply wish to gamble, you can elect to close the action and “let it ride.” The dealer then reveals the other two cards and pays you based on the strength of the hand. However, if you wish, you can withdraw one of the wagers and see one of the dealer’s two facedown cards. If there is still no improvement, you can pull back another bet and, based on the fifth card, win or lose the lone remaining bet.
  • Big 6: Big 6 is more commonly known for its distinctive vertical wheel, which is slotted and contains representations of various dollar amounts. Players wager on the dollar amounts and win or lose based on whether the wheel comes to rest on their chosen denomination. The game is often called (somewhat cheekily) the original wheel of fortune, but in reality, fortune usually only smiles on the casino in this game.
  • Ultimate Texas Hold’em: This is the most deceptively named table game in all of gambling due to its conflation with the poker game of the same name. However, in practice, this game has much more in common with Three Card Poker, Four Card Poker and Let It Ride than its namesake. Players must post an initial ante bet and blind bet, then check or raise as their hands dictate. Gameplay goes all the way to the river on each hand, and the dealer’s hand is revealed at the end of the action.

Poker

Poker is the odd bird of casino gambling. It is often tucked away in remote corners of the casino and is a steadfastly nonsmoking area, even if the rest of the property allows players to smoke like chimneys. However, poker players are a dedicated bunch, and there is no shortage of options for them in Massachusetts. Both MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor have poker rooms, and each one features more than a dozen tables for play.

The most common game in a poker room is No Limit Texas Hold’em. You may also find other games, like Pot Limit Omaha or seven-card stud, but if you’re looking for one of those options, call ahead to see if it’s available. Both casinos offer cash games and tournaments, but it is best to get more information if you want to try your hand at a tournament. It is also common to find bad beat jackpots in these rooms, where a lucky hand of poker can be worth thousands of extra dollars to an entire table.

Keno

Keno is a casual casino game that is, in fact, available via the Massachusetts Lottery. It functions in much the same manner as a lottery draw game, with players selecting numbers from a grid and trying to match as many numbers as possible during preset drawings throughout the day. These games often are available in restaurants as a sort of diversion while players eat. Fittingly, one of the primary locations to play keno in Massachusetts is at MGM Springfield’s TAP Sports Bar.

Resources

Though we have given a thorough overview of casino gambling in Massachusetts, you might need to reach out if you have questions that go deeper in detail. Here are a few local resources regarding legal casino gambling (online and offline) in the state:

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