Massachusetts Sports Betting Poll Reveals 24% Participation From Residents

Written By Hill Kerby on April 15, 2024
24% Massachusetts Sports Betting Participation

More than a year has passed since the launch of Massachusetts sports betting, creating ample data to measure its impact. And that data goes beyond dollar signs.

A survey from CommonWealth Beacon/GBH News recently dove into the sports betting behavior of Massachusetts residents. It examined their betting activity and frequency, amounts wagered, and motivations for betting — breaking down the answers by age, gender and ethnicity.

Keep reading for the survey’s key findings and analysis.

Survey reveals 24% Massachusetts sports betting participation

A recent poll of 1,002 Massachusetts residents showed that 24% of Bay Staters placed a sports bet within the past year. That amounts to nearly one in four Massachusetts residents. Other wagering-related activity among participants was as follows:

  • 68% purchased scratch or lottery tickets
  • 57% purchased Mega Millions or Powerball tickets
  • 25% placed a bet at a casino
  • 24% placed a sports bet
  • 22% played Keno
  • 7% bet on horse racing

However, the intensity of sports betting activity varied significantly. Roughly half of the participants bet once a month or less, and the other half bet more than once a month.

  • 17% bet more than once per week
  • 17% bet about once per week
  • 17% bet a few times per month
  • 16% bet about once per month
  • 30% bet less than once per month
  • 3% didn’t know or refused to answer

Nearly half of those who did not participate in Massachusetts sports betting within the last year said they were not interested (24%) or did not watch sports (24%). 

Other significant percentages of answers came from people opposing gambling (19%), not wanting to risk or lose money (11%), feeling that sports betting was a waste of money (9%), or being too expensive (6%).

Of the 1,002 Massachusets residents who participated in the survey, their demographics were broken down as follows:

Other / multiple3%

More women are betting on sports than ever before

Sports betting showed the most significant activity discrepancy between the sexes: 35% of men said they bet on sports, compared to only 14% of women. Other activities for comparison:

  • Lottery tickets: 66% of men and 69% of women
  • Powerball and Mega Millions tickets: 60% of men and 54% of women
  • Casino gambling: 28% of men and 21% of women

Women bet less often than men, too. Almost half of women who bet on sports said they participate in the activity less than once per month, while 10% bet about once a week and 12% bet more than once a week.

Comparatively, 20% of men bet on sports once per week, and another 20% bet multiple times weekly. A similar percentage (22%) said they bet less than once per month.

Despite this, legal wagering has brought women’s sports betting activity to all-time highs.

Just 22% of women said they bet on sports before it became legal. Since legalization, 33% of women bet more now, and another 49% bet about the same amount. 

Responsible gambling trends & problems affect all demographics

While the results of this Massachusetts sports betting survey confirm that most sports bettors engage in some form of responsible gambling practice, it also reveals that at-risk gambling behaviors still exist across all demographics.


Nearly half (46%) of participants said they typically bet less than $20 per wager. Bettors aged 18-29 had the highest percentage (54%) of small wagers.

On the contrary, only 40% of participants aged 30-44 fell into this category. That age group also had the highest percentages of people who wager between $100-$199 (10%) and $200 or more (8%). 

Additionally, the middle-aged category showed the lowest percentage of people who bet on sports for fun and entertainment (37%) and the highest percentage who gamble expecting to win money (42%). 

The 18-29 age group had the highest rate of fun and entertainment (58%) and the lowest rate of bettors who gamble to win money (21%).

Of all age groups, those aged 45-59 had the lowest percentage of bettors who use only spare cash for wagers.

  • Age 60+: 79%
  • Age 45-59: 69%
  • Age 30-44: 73%
  • Age 18-29: 74%


The survey showed that 57% of non-white bettors have increased their wagering activity since Massachusetts legalized sports betting. Furthermore, non-white bettors were more likely to place higher average wagers.

  • Less than $20: 52% white; 33% non-white
  • $20-$49: 24% white; 28% non-white
  • $50-$99: 15% white; 24% non-white
  • $100-$199: 4% white; 8% non-white
  • $200 or greater: 5% white; 8% non-white

Non-white bettors appear to engage in betting for different reasons, too. 

  • 30% of non-white bettors cited fun and entertainment as their primary reason to bet, versus 50% of white bettors
  • 39% of non-white bettors cited winning money as their primary reason to bet, versus 26% of white bettors

But the tables turn when asking about the source of betting funds. When asked to describe the source of funds used for sports betting, 80% of non-white bettors categorized it as spare cash. That number was 73% for white bettors.

Only 1% of non-white bettors said they used part of their living expenses for betting, compared to 6% of white bettors. 

Another 13% of non-white bettors said their betting funds were a combination of spare cash and living expenses. For white bettors, that number was 20%.


Men and women showed similar patterns in their breakdowns of how much and how often they bet on sports. However, women tend to favor fun and entertainment over winning money.

  • 50% of women cited fun and entertainment as their primary reason to bet, versus 42% of men
  • 27% of women cited winning money as their primary reason to bet, versus 32% of men

That said, women may be more prone to at-risk gambling practices. Only 69% of women said their funds come from spare cash, compared to 75% of men. 

While 3% of women said part of their betting funds came from living expenses, another 22% said it was a combination of both. For men, those numbers were 5% and 17%, respectively.

Photo by Dreamstime/PlayMA
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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby is a proponent of safe, legal betting, and is grateful to be able to contribute to growing the industry. He has a background in poker, sports, and psychology, all of which he incorporates into his writing.

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