Sports and Massachusetts have quite a history. The Bay State is home to some of the most successful sports franchises in the country, with each of the state’s four major teams winning a championship at least once since 2008. Furthermore, the fan bases and, in some cases, stadiums of the Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins are some of the most storied and well-known in all of sports. It makes sense, then, that a place with such a deep connection to sports would be interested in legal sports betting.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened yet. Although sports betting is alive and well in nearby states like Rhode Island and New Hampshire (and sucking up Massachusetts dollars in the process), there is no law on the books to allow Bay Staters to place wagers either on their mobile devices or at the state’s casino locations. Even worse, state lawmakers don’t seem terribly motivated to move forward on making sports betting a reality. And all the while DraftKings has its home base in Boston.
Regardless of the situation in the state Legislature, we will keep you informed. This page is your resource for everything happening with retail and online sports betting in Massachusetts, from the status of the law to how sports betting is likely to work in the Bay State.
Is sports betting legal in Massachusetts?
No. Sports betting remains illegal in Massachusetts at this time. However, there are two bills under consideration in the Massachusetts Legislature that would permit the introduction of sports betting in the Bay State. One of them, H 3977, overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives in July 2021 but has yet to proceed in the Senate. The last action on the other, S 269, was a referral to the Senate Ways and Means Committee in July 2021.
Does Massachusetts allow online sports betting?
No. Since Massachusetts does not permit sports betting, all forms of it are illegal — including online sports betting. Both active bills in the Massachusetts Legislature, however, include online sports betting among the activities that they would permit. So, should Massachusetts finally move forward with sports betting, the online version will almost certainly be part of the program.
When will Massachusetts launch sports betting?
2022 or later. The Massachusetts Legislature reported an unexpected budget surplus in 2021. As a result, lawmakers are not as driven to legalize sports betting and move forward with plans for launch as they might otherwise be. At best, sports betting will become legal as a last-minute motion in the 2021 legislative session, which ends in November 2021. Even if lawmakers do come around and give the green light in 2021 (which is doubtful), sportsbooks would not launch until 2022 at the very earliest.
Sportsbook apps coming to Massachusetts
Now, just because we don’t know exactly when sports betting is coming to Massachusetts, we can say, with varying degrees of confidence, what will be coming when it does. We know these players because either they already have operations in the Bay State of some sort or they are common among the vanguard of sports betting apps that launch early in new states. Some of them fit both descriptions, in fact. Since it is unlikely Massachusetts will go the route of New Hampshire with a single app to serve the entire state, here are the sportsbooks that you might see coming to Massachusetts in the near future:
Sports betting in Massachusetts is going to involve the DraftKings betting app. There is no doubt about that. For starters, it was founded in and maintains its corporate headquarters in Boston. DraftKings has also served as one of the top daily fantasy sports providers in Massachusetts since its inception in 2012. Since then, it has established itself as one of the top sportsbooks in the country through its combination of aggressive expansion and solid app design. The folks in green and black are not about to have sports betting proceed outside their office windows without their own involvement.
FanDuel Sportsbook is certain to come to Massachusetts when the Bay State begins sports betting. For one thing, like its perennial nemesis, DraftKings, FanDuel has offered daily fantasy sports contests in Massachusetts for many years now. It is headquartered just down the road from the Bay State in New York City, too. FanDuel has been at the forefront of new launches since sports betting began spreading in 2018, and there’s no reason to assume that it would miss out on a debut in its own backyard.
BetMGM Sportsbook would be a good bet to launch in Massachusetts on its brand name alone. The sports betting wing of two of the world’s largest gambling companies (MGM Resorts and Entain) has enough brand recognition to be a success in most new areas. However, what pushes BetMGM over the top is the fact that MGM Resorts owns and operates one of the two full-service casino locations in Massachusetts. MGM Springfield has been open for just a few years, but its presence makes the addition of sports betting a natural fit for everyone involved. Folks in the state can look forward to a sleek app that offers the Edit My Bet function — a feature that allows more flexibility with open bets than almost any other app on the market.
WynnBET certainly has a recognizable name and pedigree, but its debut as a sportsbook is more recent than you might imagine. As such, it likely cannot enter new markets with as much abandon as some of the other companies on this list just yet. However, WynnBET is a surefire member of the Massachusetts sports betting fraternity because of the presence of Encore Boston Harbor. The casino resort, one of only two in Massachusetts, is an ideal hub for the fledgling sportsbook should the state finally decide to move forward with sports betting.
Barstool Sportsbook may not immediately ring any bells if you haven’t kept up with gambling or sports betting in recent years. However, this company is the sports betting brand for Penn National Gaming, a large gambling company with many properties across the US. One of those properties is the slots parlor at Plainridge Park, which is the reason that we’re certain Barstool will debut in Massachusetts should sports betting come to pass. Barstool blends the solid technology platform that Penn National offers with the edginess of its namesake blog, so if you’re looking for a “cool” sportsbook app, this one might be the winner.
Caesars Sportsbook is a major sports betting brand that exploded into the stratosphere with its 2020 purchase of William Hill. The two companies are now one of the largest bookmakers on the planet. Although there is nothing particularly flashy about the Caesars app, you are unlikely to find a bet that you cannot make because of the deep histories of both sources. The only thing working against an assured Caesars launch is the fact that the company does not have any properties in Massachusetts. However, there are Caesars locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, so it’s not like the company is a stranger to the Northeast. It just doesn’t have that toehold in the subject state that has proven vital in other sports betting locales.
BetRivers is the sportsbook division of Rush Street Interactive, the same company behind the Rivers brand of casinos. Although there are no Rivers casinos in Massachusetts, there are locations in nearby New York and Pennsylvania, so it’s quite possible that Massachusettsans have dealt with this company before. Rush Street’s decidedly Northeastern bent is the main reason why a launch in Massachusetts would make sense. The app is clean in its design, and BetRivers MA app offers a dynamic loyalty program for sports bettors called iRush Rewards.
How to get started at a Massachusetts sportsbook
Although sports betting isn’t active in Massachusetts just yet, we’re confident that the procedure for being able to bet will be the same as it is elsewhere. So, should Massachusetts finally decide to allow online sports betting, these are the steps, more or less, that you should undertake. From start to finish, this should take no more than 15 minutes at the very most, and it will likely be much faster than that.
- Download and install
- Place your bets
1. Download and install
The first step is to get the app onto your mobile device. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, then you will be able to access the site through your browser. In either case, your first step will be to navigate to the sportsbook of your choice. Note any bonus codes that you may need to claim welcome bonuses that the sportsbook offers. If you need to enter them later on, you will want to ensure that you do so accurately and with the proper capitalization.
Once you are at the sportsbook site, you will see the logos for the two main formats of mobile devices. Whether you use an Apple product or an Android device, you will see a button for your format. Select the appropriate button, and follow the prompts from there to complete the download.
After you initiate the download, the app will install itself on your device. Don’t worry; the sites that we recommend are legal and highly regulated, so you don’t have to be concerned that you’re installing a virus or an otherwise compromised application.
The next step is to create your account on the app itself. Open the app and look for a prominent button in the upper portion of the display. For the most part, there will be side-by-side buttons for logging into the app and registering for a new account. However, on occasion, you’ll find a site that only has a button for logging in. If that’s the case, then go ahead and press it, and look for language on the ensuing screen that says something like “First time here?” or “Sign up.” In either case, you will proceed to the app’s registration screen or screens.
Once you reach the registration area, you will find several blanks that ask you for your personal details and information. Typically, you will have to provide your legal name, email address, date of birth, phone number, mailing address, and either all or a portion of your Social Security number. Additionally, you will have to designate a username and password so that you can log in to your account whenever you return. Make sure to choose secure options for both of these elements, as you will keep some sensitive information in your account.
Lastly, if you did happen to copy down a bonus code from this site, look for a box that asks you to enter such a code. It is usually the only optional element on the page, so it should be fairly easy to find.
After you finish all of the blanks, hit the appropriate button to submit your information and create your account.
Depending on which app you’ve chosen, you’ll end up in one of two places when you submit your information to register. You’ll either default into the main lobby, or you’ll automatically be deposited, no pun intended, at the app’s cashier. Either way, it’s hard to bet on sports without money, so the next step in the procedure is to fund your account.
The good news is that the sportsbook cannot exist without deposits, either, so most apps go out of their way to offer as many ways to put money into your account as possible. Common methods include credit cards, debit cards, e-checks, electronic wallets like PayPal or Skrill, prepaid cards, wire transfers, and online banking. Some of them might even offer in-person ways to deposit, particularly if your chosen app is part of a company with a land-based casino in the state.
Because you are likely to have choices for the apps that you use, selecting an app because (in part) it has deposit and withdrawal options that work for you is perfectly legitimate. After all, an app is useless to you if you cannot move money around on it. As you deposit, you may find a blank for a promo code once again. If you know that a welcome bonus or bonuses affect your deposit, make sure to enter the code in the box here, too.
Use the deposit method that works best for you. However, for many people, the preferred method is their credit card. Credit cards do work, but be aware that many issuing banks — including some of the largest ones, such as Bank of America and Chase — do not permit deposits onto gambling websites. On top of that, even if your bank does allow a deposit to a gambling site, it might (correctly) charge you a cash advance fee — and those can be quite steep, depending on the bank. So make sure to check with your financial institution if you are planning to use your credit card for your gambling.
4. Place your bets!
Once you’ve made your first deposit, it’s time to place that first bet. Head back to the app’s main lobby to see your options. For the most part, sportsbook apps will list popular sports, then all of the sports that you can bet on, in the left column of the lobby. In the center, you will see betting options for games that are live, the book’s featured games, and/or the day’s boosted odds. In order to wager, simply select the button corresponding to your desired wager. The right side of the display contains the bet slip, which will automatically populate with your selections. If you want to make your wagers a parlay or exercise a cash-out option (when available), you’ll do so here.
Sportsbook bonuses and promotions
One of the key differences between betting on sports at a traditional sportsbook and betting on an app is the presence of bonuses and promotions. Some land-based sportsbooks will have a promo from time to time, but they are an everyday must-have for the online apps you’ll see in Massachusetts. The reason for these promos is simple — the competition is only a click away.
Online books are always offering deals for new and existing players. Some of the best sportsbook bonuses include daily odds boosts, weekly bonus offers, or special events, to name a few. Here are the various types of bonuses and promos that you might encounter once legal Massachusetts online sports betting arrives:
- No deposit: No deposit bonuses mean the sportsbook will put money right into your account. Usually, the only thing you have to give in return is to register on the site. After you submit your information, you’ll see the money already waiting in your account to play. These bonuses are most common for new players and are sometimes called welcome bonuses. Although “welcome bonus” can also be an umbrella term for the package of bonuses that new players get.
- Deposit: Deposit bonuses commit the sportsbook to match all or a portion of your next deposit. The percentage and the total dollars you can receive varies from promotion to promotion, but it’s a good way to double your money without betting — some of it, anyway. Some apps also call these bonuses “match” or “reload” bonuses, but they all work in similar ways.
- Risk-free: Up to a certain percentage and a certain point, the book will issue a refund for any losses you suffer from the specified bet(s) or timeframe. Books will sometimes call these bonuses “cash back,” “insurance” or “refund” bonuses, so be aware if you see one of these terms.
- Loyalty programs: Loyalty, or reward, programs are the only type of bonus consistently available at both online and land-based sportsbooks. For this type of bonus, you receive a certain number of rewards points for every dollar that you wager at the book, regardless of whether you win or lose. These points determine your placement on a tiered system, and each successive tier yields various perks, benefits, and rewards for achieving it. An example familiar to Bay Staters is the M life program at MGM Springfield. You can sometimes redeem points for other goodies in special stores that the sites keep, too. Joining the program is always free, and is often automatic if you’re playing online. In the case of sportsbooks with both live and online versions, you can usually accrue points for either type of play.
- Odds boosts: Odds boosts are quite common as a way for the sportsbook to promote various games or wagers that it wants people to bet on. For bets with boosted odds, the sportsbook will simply adjust the payout ratio slightly in favor of the player. It’s never enough to break the bank — usually no more than a 25% increase or so. Naturally, the boosted games change on a daily basis, so you’ll often find odds boosts in their own section on the site for easy access.
Read the fine print for sportsbook bonuses
There are, however, a couple of things to mention about the way that sportsbooks dole out these offers and promos. The first thing to realize is that it is quite uncommon for any of your rewards to come in the form of straight cash. Most of the time, the book will send you site credits in the promised amount or free bet vouchers that total up to the bonus. In either case, you will have to bet with them before you can withdraw them.
Many bonuses come with a playthrough requirement or a wagering requirement. This requires you to wager a certain multiple of your bonus amount before the actual bonus becomes yours as cash. Otherwise, it stays in your account as withheld funds or, after a time, reverts back to the sportsbook. The multiples can be as low as 1x and as high as 50x. Needless to say, the higher the playthrough multiplier, the harder it is to get your money and/or not lose more than you stand to gain in the process. In addition, sportsbook bonuses often come with an expiration date. It can be seven days or 30 days, for example, but it gives you a timeframe for how long you have to clear the playthrough requirement.
Consider the logistics of redeeming a bonus offer carefully before you accept it — many a bettor has come to regret chasing after a particular bonus before.
FAQ on Massachusetts sports betting
How old do I have to be to bet on sports in Massachusetts?
Twenty-one. The current bills under consideration in the Massachusetts Legislature specify that players must be 21 or older in order to bet. There’s no reason to assume that, even if these bills do not pass, any subsequent bills in the next year or two will waver from this position. Some states are sympathetic to establishing 18 as the minimum gambling age, but Massachusetts is not one of them.
Do I have to be a resident of Massachusetts to bet?
No. It is not necessary to be a resident of the Bay State in order to place a sports bet there. In fact, you can establish a sports betting account in any state that you like.
Do I have to be inside Massachusetts to place a wager on a Massachusetts sportsbook?
Yes. Both federal and state laws prohibit the placement of sports wagers across state lines. The apps themselves will use geolocation software to ensure that you can’t bet unless you are verifiably inside Massachusetts state lines. These software programs are quite adept, too — you are more likely to be denied service falsely than you are to trick the technology into allowing you to bet. These programs use your device’s GPS in order to pinpoint your location within a few feet. And, just to be clear, federal law also prohibits placing wagers over the phone to land-based sportsbooks themselves. In fact, in some cases, you cannot even tell a friend to bet on your behalf legally.
Who oversees Massachusetts sports betting?
Barring some unforeseen development, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The active sports betting bills identify the commission as the overseer of the activity, and there’s no question that the MGC is the most logical place for oversight over sports betting to reside.
Will DraftKings be legal?
Yes. DraftKings is already legal in Massachusetts as a DFS provider. In addition, it was founded in Boston and its headquarters remain there in the Back Bay area. There’s no question that a Massachusetts launch is at the top of the priority list for DraftKings Sportsbook.
Can I bet on college sports in Massachusetts?
It’s actually not clear yet. The two proposed sports betting bills in Massachusetts differ radically in regard to college sports, with one bill approving them for wagering and the other one specifically prohibiting betting on them. This subject is a common point of contention for lawmakers, so we won’t know until a law gets closer to fruition which version (or compromise) will prevail.
Massachusetts casinos and sportsbooks: Where to bet on sports
There’s something to be said for gambling in person. The ambiance of gambling locations is hard to replicate through a mobile device. Sportsbooks in casinos are fascinating places, with wall-to-wall televisions several stories high and marvelous display boards with various bets in lights. It’s understandable, then, if you are curious about where you’ll be able to bet on sports in person in Massachusetts once things get underway. Although we cannot say for certain about the locations, the following places are the most likely candidates to host sportsbooks in the future:
- Encore Boston Harbor (full-service casino): 1 Broadway, Everett, MA 02149
- MGM Springfield (full-service casino): One MGM Way, Springfield, MA 01103
- Plainridge Park Casino (slots-only casino): 301 Washington St., Plainville, MA 02762
- Raynham Park (off-track betting): 1958 Broadway, Raynham, MA 02767
- Suffolk Downs (off-track betting): 525 William F McClellan Highway, Boston, MA 02128
In the meantime, nearby Connecticut launched its own full-service online gambling market, complete with online sports betting, casinos, and poker. It’s only a matter of time before Massachusetts has three adjoining states with sports betting. And New York is probably no more than a year away from an online launch, too.
Popular sports teams to bet on in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is small on land area but not on population, so it’s no surprise that multiple sports teams call the state home. In fact, some of the most storied and successful franchises in all the sports reside in and around Boston. With so much history ingrained into the very culture of the region, sports bettors in Massachusetts are undoubtedly eager to place wagers on their favorite teams. Here are the relevant squads in Massachusetts, along with a few notes about how to bet on them.
Massachusetts’ NFL franchise is one of the best-known teams in the league and one of its most successful. Since 2002, the Patriots have racked up six Super Bowl wins, tying them with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most ever by any one team. Although the Pats play in Foxborough, roughly equidistant between Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, and seem to represent the entire geographic region, there’s no denying that the team belongs to the folks in Boston.
- New England Patriots: Gillette Stadium, 1 Patriot Place, Foxborough, MA 02035
Betting on NFL games is simple and straightforward. Almost every game features plenty of scoring, which makes the oddsmakers’ jobs to offer multiple types of wagers much easier. In addition to all the standard bets, look for several proposition and in-game wagers during Pats’ games. Both team statistics and individual accomplishments are common fodder.
Few basketball teams can boast the level of accomplishment that the Boston Celtics have attained. Aside from the Los Angeles Lakers, no other NBA franchise has brought home more championship hardware than the boys in white and green. Celtics history is populated by some of the biggest names ever to play the game — Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Kevin Garnett, and, of course, Larry Bird are just a sample of some of the all-time greats who have donned a Celtics uniform.
- Boston Celtics: TD Garden, 100 Legends Way, Boston, MA 02114
Like NFL games, NBA games are easy to bet on due to the fact that they are rife with scoring and statistics. Every single Celtics game will come with a plethora of options for betting on either team and most or all of the players involved. One common wager is the outcome of individual quarters of play. Even if the Celtics are coming out on the short end of the stick, “winning” a quarter can be enough to put some extra cash in your pocket or hedge against those full-game wagers going up in flames.
Against the backdrop of those first two teams mentioned, a Massachusetts baseball team has some awfully big shoes to fill. Thankfully, the MLB team in the Bay State is one of the league’s best-known franchises in its own right. The Boston Red Sox are so famous that even their stadium is known to many non-baseball fans, especially for its large green wall in left field.
- Boston Red Sox: Fenway Park, 4 Jersey St., Boston, MA 02215
It is quite common for baseball games to be decided by a single run. For that reason, oddsmakers use the “run line” rather than the point spread. This hybrid wager sets the spread at a concrete 1.5 runs but varies the payout ratios more like a moneyline bet. It’s still a spread bet — meaning that the determinant is whether the favorite beats the line or the underdog covers. However, the smaller separations mean that it’s not uncommon for a moneyline favorite to be less likely to beat the spread, thus making the team’s run line payout a positive number.
Hockey is never going to be the draw that the big three sports in the US are, but there are still rabid and loyal followers of the sport in many areas of the country. One of those areas is Massachusetts, likely because of its far colder winters than destinations farther south. Thus, it’s no surprise that Boston is home to an NHL team and no surprise that that team is one of the better clubs in the league. The Bruins have six Stanley Cups to their name and added the most recent one in 2011.
- Boston Bruins: TD Garden, 100 Legends Way, Boston, MA 02114
Although periods of play are more distinct in hockey than in baseball, the game on ice shares the same scoring paucity as America’s Pastime. Thus, oddsmakers have a similar difficulty in setting point spreads for hockey games as baseball games. A similar problem often calls for a similar solution, and, accordingly, the books use the “puck line,” a bet identical and analogous to baseball’s run line.
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the various colleges and universities native to Massachusetts. Although most of them are not athletic powerhouses, schools like UMass and Boston College have had their share of memorable moments and great players. Football players like Doug Flutie, Luke Kuechly, and Victor Cruz all went to college in Massachusetts. Likewise, NBA stars like Julius Erving, Bob Cousy, and Marcus Camby each matriculated at schools in the Bay State. Here are the Massachusetts schools that play in the NCAA Division I:
- Boston College
- Boston University
- College of the Holy Cross
- Harvard University
- Northeastern University
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
As we mentioned earlier, we don’t know what bets, if any, Massachusetts will allow on college sports. The divergence of opinion is evident in current pieces of legislation under consideration, and it’s likely going to be a point of contention for a while. In all likelihood, there will be some amount of college betting permitted, but in-state universities are often singled out as protected institutions in-state sports betting laws. This means that it’s probably less likely that you’ll be able to bet on BC, BU, or UMass, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
What’s next for legal sports betting in Massachusetts?
All this discussion about sports betting in Massachusetts is a moot point until the Legislature decides to move forward. Even though there are multiple pieces of legislation active right now, top-ranking lawmakers have denied that going one direction or the other is a priority. Until they can figure out what to do with their budget surplus and/or deplete their resources once again, the most likely scenario is a prolonged holding pattern.
If you are a hopeful sports bettor living in or near Massachusetts, the best thing to do is keep your eyes on this page and on legislative developments on some of those issues that lawmakers have listed as higher priorities. At this point, a 2021 legalization does not appear to be in the cards, but things can change and move quickly, so it’s best to stay mindful about the developments as they occur. Rest assured, we’ll keep you in the loop for all the latest going forward.