How to Bet on Sports in Massachusetts

Massachusetts sports betting is almost here.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has announced an unofficial time frame for the launch of MA sports betting. The tentative launch would see retail betting begin in January 2023, with mobile betting following in late February or early March. (So, in time for March Madness.)

As sports betting is legalized in more and more states, it’s becoming increasingly embedded into our national sports culture. We are starting to see discussions of sports betting on national broadcasts, along with odds and lines appearing on screen, and the proliferation of this once largely illegal activity in popular culture.

For casual fans who have never ventured into sports betting, the amount of jargon may seem intimidating. However, the good news is that with just a little bit of learning, you can understand everything you need to know about how sports betting works.

This page will serve as a full guide on the basics of sports betting and how to bet on sports in Massachusetts, as well as give you a quick intro on choosing the best of the Massachusetts sports betting promos. From how the industry works to what the odds mean, this page has you covered.

How Sports Betting Works

One of the key concepts to understand about sports betting is that you’re not playing against other bettors.

You’re going against the sportsbook.

Sports betting platforms offer a huge variety of bets and sports. All the major North American leagues are available at legal sportsbooks, as well as international competitions and potentially some niche options.

When you decide to place a bet, you put down money upfront that is at risk. This is your stake. Each bet will have an associated set of odds. Depending on those odds, you will stand to win a certain amount of money if your bet wins.

Sportsbooks make money by placing a small house edge into most sets of odds. They then aim to get relatively equal action on either side of the bet, ensuring that they stand to make a profit in every outcome. If they ever feel the action is slanted too much toward one side, they will adjust the odds to encourage people to bet on the other side.

Remember: The sportsbooks are trying to make a profit. You have to beat the sportsbook in order to win.

How to Read Sports Betting Odds

At US sportsbooks, odds for the vast majority of bets will be American odds. The important concept to understand when reading American odds is that in a matchup between two teams, there’s going to be a favorite and an underdog.

The favorite’s odds will be a negative number of at least three digits. This number represents how much you would need to wager for a chance to win $100.

For example, consider a scenario in which you are wanting to bet on the New England Patriots to win a game at odds of -300. This means that you would have to bet $300 to win $100 if the Patriots are victorious. This would make your total payout $400 (you get your wager back plus the winnings).

Underdogs, on the other hand, will usually have a positive odds number of at least three digits. This number represents how much you could win on a $100 bet.

For example, consider a scenario in which you are wanting to bet on the Boston Bruins to win a game with odds of +250. This means that if you bet $100 on the Bruins to win, you would win $250 if they do. This would make your total payout $350.

Remember: The bigger the odds, the less likely you are to win. So, yes, a $250 profit on that Bruins wager is more than the $100 profit on the Patriots bet. But the Patriots bet is more likely to succeed.

Massachusetts online sportsbooks will do the calculations for you, so there’s no need to worry if you find this confusing. Simply add a bet to your ticket, input how much you want to risk, and the platform will show you how much you stand to win. This way you are able to see the potential winnings before you lock in your bets.

Popular Massachusetts Sports Bets

MA sports bettors will have access to a seemingly endless betting market. You’re able to bet on virtually any event within a game, as sportsbooks compete with one another to offer the best Massachusetts sports betting odds and bets.

The three most common types of sports bets are moneyline bets, spread bets, and Over/Under bets. While these are typically the most popular, there are plenty of other options to choose from.

Here’s a breakdown:


This is a simple bet where all you’re doing is wagering on who you think will win the game. If you bet on the Celtics to win and they do, then you win your bet. The important thing to keep in mind for moneyline bets is the odds for each side. You want to find selections that have strong odds compared to their chance of winning the game. The examples in the section above show examples of moneyline bets and odds.


Spread bets involve wagering on the margin of victory. The spread refers to a number of points that a team is either predicted to win or lose by. For favored teams, they must win by at least that number to “cover the spread.” For underdogs, they must either win the game straight up, or lose by fewer points than the spread to cover. Much like moneyline bets, the favored team on the spread is indicated with a minus sign, while the underdog is indicated with a plus sign. For example, the spread might look like this for an NBA game:

  • Boston Celtics (-7)
  • New York Knicks (+7)

In this scenario, the Celtics are favored by seven points. According to the Celtics odds, they must win the game by more than seven points for a spread bet on them to cash. The Knicks must lose by six points or less (or win outright) for their bet to cash. If the game ends with the Celtics winning by exactly seven, that’s is referred to as a “push,” and all spread bettors will receive their wagers back.


Over/Under bets are also referred to as totals bets. The sportsbook will set a line for the combined total score by the two teams in the game, and you can wager on whether the actual total score will end up over or under that line. For example, the total for a game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants might be 44.5. If the two teams combine for 45 or more points, over bettors win. If the two teams combine for 44 points or fewer, under bettors win. Most sportsbooks also feature totals bets for halves and quarters as well.


Futures bets refer to wagers placed on long-term outcomes that often will be available for most of the year. For example, betting on which team will win the next Super Bowl is a popular futures wager that you can place at any point from before the start of the season until right around Super Bowl time. Another might be placing a bet on which player you think will be the next NBA MVP. Essentially, futures bets take place over the course of an entire season.


These are wagers on smaller events within the game. Props are not bets on which team is going to win. Instead, they are on events that are separate from the overall outcome. For instance, you could bet on Jayson Tatum to score over or under a certain number of 3-pointers, or any number of other NBA player props.

Prop bets encompass so many potential wagers that it acts as an umbrella term. The Super Bowl is like Christmas for prop bet enthusiasts, as sportsbooks will take the time to create many distinct options that are unique to the Super Bowl.

Live Betting

Both the advancement of technology and move to online gambling have allowed for the proliferation of live betting. This is the act of betting on a game as it happens. Sportsbooks will keep the lines moving to reflect what is happening in the game, and you can place a bet whenever you see some odds you like. Make sure to move quickly, though, because those sports odds or lines that you like can disappear in a second.

Choosing the Right Sportsbook

There are a couple of things that your sportsbook needs to have for you to even consider betting there.

The first is that you should pick a legal and regulated sportsbook. This helps ensure that you will receive fair treatment and that your money is in safe hands. Unregulated offshore betting sites do not have to answer to any regulating body, and they can put your information and money at risk. It is best to avoid them.

After limiting the options to legal sportsbooks, there are a few qualities that you can compare to find one that is right for you. When signing up for new sportsbook accounts, be sure to be on the lookout for any sportsbook bonuses that may be available for first-time users. Most sportsbooks that become available in Massachusetts will have sports betting bonuses for new users. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for all welcome offers.

You also want to make sure that your sportsbook has a good variety of sports and bets that will meet your needs. If you have any favorite sports, make sure the book allows you to bet on them. It’s also a good idea to check online and see what other people are saying before you sign up. In addition, make sure that the sportsbook you use has competitive odds.

Last but not least, make sure that your sportsbook offers convenient deposit and withdrawal options. You want it to be easy to get your money in and out of the sportsbook, so check to make sure that your preferred option is available.

When it comes down to it, it may be best to download multiple Massachusetts sportsbooks. That is quite all right, and common among sports bettors across the country.

Sports Betting Tips for Beginners

Here are a few basic tips on how to bet on sports to help you get started:

1. Bet with your head, not your heart

Every sports fan has a favorite team, but when it comes time for betting, you can’t let that be a deciding factor. You need to be thinking with your head and make smart decisions without letting emotions become too involved if you want the best chance at making a profit.

2. Don’t chase losses

You’re going to go through cold streaks where it feels as if you’ll never win again. You need to be able to keep a steady head and not go wild with your bet sizing. Don’t try to make up for all of your losses with one monster bet.

3. Don’t bet when intoxicated

It’s best not to wager when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When intoxicated, your decision-making process is going to be hampered, and you do not want to be putting your money at risk during this time.

How to Bet on Sports in Massachusetts FAQs

Can you bet on sports in Massachusetts online?

Yes. Retail sports betting and online sports betting are both legal in Massachusetts. Some in-person gambling options include MG Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, while online options include BetMGM Massachusetts and Caesars Sportsbook Massachusetts.

What odds do Massachusetts sportsbooks use?

Sportsbooks in Massachusetts and across the US predominantly use American odds. With American odds, the favorite is listed next to a three-digit negative number (i.e. -200) and the underdog is listed next to a three-digit positive number (i.e. +150). For the favorite, the odds show how much you’d have to wager to win $100 in profit. For underdogs, the odds show how much profit you’d made if you win a $100 bet.

What are the most common types of sports betting wagers in Massachusetts?

Moneyline, spread, and Over/Under bets are the most common in the US. A moneyline bet is a simple prediction of the winner. A spread beat deals with the margin of victory or defeat. And an Over/Under bet, or total bet, revolves around the total points scored in a given contest.

What is live betting?

Live betting, or in-game wagering, is exactly what it sounds like: You make bets as a contest progresses. Odds constantly fluctuate as a game is played. With live betting, bettors can pounce on the odds they like the most. But they have to act fast, because again, the odds are changing constantly.

Can you bet on sports in Massachusetts at 18?

No. The legal age limit for Massachusetts sports betting is 21 years old. That’s both for retail and online sports betting.

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