The gambling landscape in Massachusetts is changing, it’s just not happening very quickly for sports bettors.
While a majority of Americans agreed that sports betting should be legal in a 2017 poll, many states are still some time away from providing the proper legislation. Simulcast wagering on horse and dog races is allowed in Massachusetts, but gambling on football and other sports currently is not.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker recently expressed his view that there needs to be “framework” before sports betting could be legalized. Still, he is open to the idea, noting that it is “certainly something we should look at.”
Betting Laws in Massachusetts
Almost seven million people live in the Bay State. Boston, which is the state’s capital, is also the largest city with nearly 700,000 residents.
Gambling, whether it's horse racing at Suffolk Downs or the slots at MGM Springfield casino, is regulated at the state level.
All legalized gambling within Massachusetts is limited to the following areas:
- • Commerical casinos
- • Tribal casinos
- • Poker
- • Daily fantasy
- • Online gambling
- • Horse racing
- • Lottery
- • Social gambling
- • Charitable gambling
Adults the age of 18 and over are allowed to bet on bingo, pari-mutuel wagering and the state lottery. A gambler must be at least 21 years old to play poker or bet at a casino.
Massachusetts has a total of nine casinos and pari-mutuel facilities which are spread out across seven cities throughout the state. The city with the most is Plainville with two casinos.
MGM Springfield is considered the first of its kind in the state. It includes a hotel, restaurants, entertainment and upscale retail shops. Wynn Resorts promises to open a $2-billion casino development just north of Boston in 2019.
Daily fantasy sports
The state governor signed a bill into law in 2016 legalizing daily fantasy sports betting. The current deal expires in 2018 when players can expect to pay more to play with a new schedule of taxes and fees.
Here is the list of regulations for players in Massachusetts:
- • Players must be over 21 years of age.
- • No college games and other amateur sporting events.
- • Truth in advertising standards apply.
- • $1,000 monthly deposit limit.
- • Entries limited to the lesser of 150 or three per cent.
Suffolk Downs is one of two live horse racing tracks in operation in Massachusetts, the other being Plainridge Racecourse. The racetrack was sold in May 2017 to a developer who plans to create housing and a shopping district.
Sterling Suffolk Racecourse (the former owner) stated that it plans to open up a new full-time racetrack in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Lottery was established in 1971 following the legalization of gambling by the state's General Court.
The state's lottery is unusual in that it withholds five per cent on prizes over $600, instead of only over $5,000. The federal withholding on prizes of at least $5,000 is 25 per cent.
Massachusetts Sports Betting Laws
States are now free to enable gambling on sports after a Supreme Court decision in May struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. With the federal law cleared, the path to state-by-state legalization is open.
Any kind of sports betting market in Massachusetts is likely to surround the state's commercial and Native American casino properties.
“We will get about the work of this quickly so that when we do convene for the 2019-2020 session we can be ready to go,” said Massachusetts representative Joseph Wagner. “That would be the hope and the potential game plan.”
Money, as is often the case, is at the center of it all. States across the U.S. won’t legalize sports betting until there’s a concrete plan to maximize revenue. And not every state’s rules will necessarily be identical.
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Massachusetts’ Major Sports Teams
New England Patriots (NFL)
The New England Patriots, established in 1959, have appeared in the Super Bowl 10 times in franchise history, the most of any team, eight of them since the arrival of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady in 2000. They have won 20 division titles and five league championships.
Boston Celtics (NBA)
Founded in 1946 as one of the original eight NBA teams to survive the league's first decade, the Boston Celtics have won the most championships in NBA history with 17, accounting for 23.9 per cent of all NBA championships since the league started.
Boston Red Sox (MLB)
Founded in 1901, the Boston Red Sox have won nine World Series championships, most recently in 2018, and they have played in 13.
They went into one of the longest championship droughts in baseball history, dubbed the "Curse of the Bambino" after its alleged inception due to the sale of Babe Ruth to the rival New York Yankees two years after their world championship in 1918, an 86-year wait before the team's sixth world championship in 2004.
Boston Bruins (NHL)
The Boston Bruins, who have been in existence since 1924 as one of the Original Six franchises, are the league's third-oldest team overall and the oldest in the U.S. The Bruins have won six Stanley Cup championships, tied for fourth most all-time.