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Gambling Laws of Massachusetts Legal State of Gambling

In this comprehensive overview of Massachusetts Gambling Laws, we've detailed the state's gambling landscape. Since 1971, with the legalization of the state lottery, gambling has evolved. The 2011 Expanded Gaming Act sanctioned casinos, permitting three commercial venues: Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor. Daily fantasy sports were legalized in 2018, while online gambling remains restricted. Legislation is under consideration for sports betting legalization. CasinoLandia offers this detailed guide to simplify understanding Massachusetts' diverse gambling regulations.

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Overview of Online Gambling in Massachusetts

Online gambling in Massachusetts has undergone notable developments, particularly with the legalization and launch of online sports betting on March 10, 2023. Residents now have access to a variety of online betting options, including horse racing, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports. Seven sportsbooks, such as DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, FanDuel, WynnBET, Barstool Sportsbook, and Betr, currently serve the online sports wagering market, with ESPN Bet's impending launch post-Barstool Sportsbook's rebrand potentially expanding the market to encompass up to 15 online sports gambling platforms.

However, while sports betting has flourished, online casinos remain absent from the legal gambling landscape in Massachusetts. As per existing regulations, online casino gambling is not permitted, leaving residents without legal avenues for such entertainment. The neighboring state of Rhode Island's recent move to legalize online casinos may influence Massachusetts lawmakers to reconsider this aspect of online gambling. Presently, online casino enthusiasts may explore social casino options, although these platforms operate solely within the boundaries of current gambling laws.

Additionally, the online poker scene mirrors the restrictions faced by online casino enthusiasts. The absence of legalized online casinos directly impacts online poker options in the state. Given the current regulatory framework, both online poker and online casinos appear unlikely to become available to Massachusetts residents in the near future. Alternatives like Global Poker, operating within the constraints of existing laws, offer avenues for poker enthusiasts to engage in various poker variants, catering to their gaming preferences.

The Legal Gambling Status in Massachusetts

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Massachusetts exhibits a complex gambling landscape with varying legal ages across different forms of wagering. The legal gambling age for land-based casinos and participation in Daily Fantasy Sports stands at 21 years old, while bingo, pari-mutuel betting, and engaging in the state lottery require individuals to be at least 18 years old. Presently, Massachusetts hosts three operating casinos, with the age limit set at 21 for entry. Despite a fondness for sports with prominent teams like the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots, sports betting remains illegal in the state. While there have been legislative efforts to legalize sports betting, the uncertain landscape persists due to discussions being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Online gambling, except for Daily Fantasy Sports, remains illegal in Massachusetts, yet discussions indicate a potential future shift in legislation. It's imperative to note that offshore online gambling platforms are not endorsed by the state, leaving residents without legal online gambling options beyond Daily Fantasy Sports.

Gambling Activity Legal Age Description
Land-based Casinos 21 Entry age for patrons to access Massachusetts casinos offering table games, slot machines, and poker rooms.
Sports Betting Illegal Betting on sports events remains prohibited within Massachusetts, despite legislative discussions aiming to legalize it.
Online Casinos Illegal Online casino gambling is presently not permitted in the state, prohibiting residents from accessing virtual casino games.
Online Sports Betting Illegal Placing bets on sports events through online platforms remains illegal, with ongoing legislative discussions about potential legalization.
Online Poker Illegal Massachusetts prohibits online poker, restricting access to virtual poker rooms and related gaming platforms.
Poker Rooms 21 The minimum age requirement to participate in poker games at designated poker rooms situated within Massachusetts casinos.
Bingo 18 Individuals aged 18 and above are eligible to participate in bingo games held within the state, complying with the legal age for this particular form of gambling.
Lottery 18 Participation in the Massachusetts state lottery, including various games like Powerball and Mega Millions, requires individuals to be at least 18 years old.
Daily Fantasy Sports 21 Legal age for engaging in Daily Fantasy Sports activities, such as those offered by major operators like DraftKings, which was legalized in Massachusetts in 2017.
Pari-Mutuel / Horse Race Betting 18 Participants aged 18 and older can place bets on horse races at racetracks and designated off-track betting locations across the state.

Massachusetts Gambling Jurisdiction

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The oversight and regulation of gambling activities in Massachusetts fall under the purview of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). Established in 2012, the MGC serves as the principal regulatory body governing the licensing, oversight, and enforcement of all gambling operations within the state. The commission ensures compliance with laws, conducts background checks for licensing suitability, and supervises the proper functioning of casinos, horse racing, and other legalized gambling activities. Operating with the mandate to maintain integrity, transparency, and public confidence in the gambling industry, the MGC upholds stringent standards to safeguard consumers' interests and prevent unlawful gambling practices. Its regulatory role extends to both land-based and potential future online gambling ventures, aiming to sustain a fair, responsible, and well-regulated gambling environment across Massachusetts.

History and Timeline for Massachusetts Online Gambling

Massachusetts' gambling evolution spans from stringent restrictions and intermittent lotteries to the establishment of casinos, with ongoing debates surrounding online gambling legalization and tribal casino ventures.

Early Restrictions and Lotteries (1638-1833)

  • 1638: Puritans enact laws outlawing games of chance.
  • 1719: All lotteries in Massachusetts are banned.
  • 1745-1833: Intermittent allowance and ban of lotteries, funding wars and institutions.

Pari-Mutuel Betting and Racing (1934-2009)

  • 1934: Legalization of pari-mutuel betting on horse and dog racing.
  • 1935-1947: Suffolk Downs, Wonderland Greyhound Park, Bay State Raceway, and Raynham Greyhound Park established.
  • 2009: Greyhound Protection Act bans dog racing, leading to closures.

Emergence of Casinos (2011-2019)

  • 2011: The Expanded Gaming Act permits legal casinos.
  • 2014-2019: Establishment of Plainridge Park, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor.

Ongoing Efforts for Online Gambling and Sports Betting Legalization

  • Present: Legislative discussions and bills proposing the legalization of online gambling and sports betting.
  • Tribal Casino Proposals: Mashpee Wampanoag and Wampanoag tribe of Gay Head aiming to establish casinos.

Legal Gambling Forms in Massachusetts

Massachusetts embraces various forms of gambling, each subject to specific age restrictions. Land-based casinos, including MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, and Plainridge Park Casino, mandate players to be at least 21 years old. While sports betting and online casinos remain illegal, pari-mutuel betting, bingo, and state lotteries allow participation at 18 years old. Despite not yet legalizing online gambling, the state's leniency towards evolving gaming forms, seen in legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports in 2017, suggests a potential shift. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission oversees gambling activities, defining rules and regulations, thus shaping the landscape of gambling in the Bay State.

Massachusetts embraces various forms of gambling, each subject to specific age restrictions.

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Massachusetts Online Casinos

Despite no local regulation, Massachusetts residents engage in offshore online casinos for diverse gaming experiences.
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Massachusetts Sports Betting

With recent legalization, Massachusetts now permits online sports betting through authorized casinos, offering a new dimension to the state's gambling landscape.
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Massachusetts Online Poker

Presently unregulated, online poker enthusiasts in Massachusetts explore offshore platforms for their card gaming preferences.
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Massachusetts Bingo

From charity events to local halls, Massachusetts residents enjoy bingo as a popular and social gambling pastime.
blackjack

Massachusetts Blackjack

Available in the state's land-based casinos, blackjack remains a favorite table game among gambling enthusiasts in Massachusetts.
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Massachusetts Lotteries

Established in 1971, the Massachusetts Lottery continues to offer various games, contributing to the state's gambling revenue.

Massachusetts Parimutuel Betting

Horse racing enthusiasts partake in parimutuel betting at authorized venues in Massachusetts, blending tradition and entertainment.

Massachusetts Prohibited Gambling Activities

Massachusetts law prohibits greyhound racing and has specific regulations against unauthorized gambling activities to maintain legal integrity within the state.

Check Out These Online Casinos Available in Massachusetts

Discover various approved online casinos in Massachusetts, where you can enjoy different types of gambling. These platforms require age verification during sign-up to meet the state's betting age rules. You'll find a range of gambling choices at these licensed online casinos in Massachusetts, all while going through the necessary verification process for a safe and legal gaming experience.

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Legalization of Bingo in Massachusetts

Despite Massachusetts' stringent regulations on various forms of gambling, the state has permitted the legal operation of bingo in select venues, subject to specific licensing requirements and regulations.

bingo

Bingo enthusiasts in Massachusetts have seen a transformation in the state's gambling landscape over the years. Despite the state's varied stance on different forms of gambling, bingo has gained legal recognition in specific settings under particular regulations. To conduct bingo games, halls in Massachusetts must obtain a state license, adhering meticulously to specified guidelines and restrictions. These regulations include controlling the frequency of bingo games conducted within an hour and ensuring that prizes are awarded in cash, maintaining compliance with set norms. Although Massachusetts has embraced bingo's legality in designated areas, it's essential to note that these regulations aim to govern and monitor the game's operation for transparency and fairness. As part of the state's gambling evolution, the legalization of bingo in select locations stands as a notable shift in Massachusetts' attitude towards this classic and beloved game.

Legalization of Blackjack in Massachusetts

Since the enactment of the Expanded Gaming Act in 2011, Massachusetts has embraced the legalization of blackjack, allowing players to enjoy this iconic card game at authorized commercial casinos within the state.

blackjack

The legalization of blackjack in Massachusetts took place following the passage of the Expanded Gaming Act in 2011. This pivotal legislation authorized the establishment of three commercial casinos in the state, each permitted to offer a variety of table games, including blackjack. Prior to this act, blackjack and other traditional table games were not legally available in the Bay State's gambling landscape. The introduction of MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor as premier casino resorts marked the inception of live dealer blackjack, providing players with the chance to engage in this popular card game within Massachusetts' legal gambling framework. With its inclusion among the authorized offerings of these esteemed casinos, blackjack enthusiasts can now relish the thrill of this classic game, further enhancing the diverse range of entertainment options available within the state's regulated gambling venues. The legalization of blackjack, alongside other table games, has significantly contributed to the flourishing casino industry in Massachusetts, catering to the preferences of gaming enthusiasts seeking an immersive and engaging casino experience.

Legalization of Lotteries in Massachusetts

The 1971 legalization of lotteries in Massachusetts via the introduction of the State Lottery aimed to raise revenue while offering various games, funding essential projects and services across the state.

Lottery Icon

The legalization of lotteries in Massachusetts dates back to 1971, marking a pivotal moment in the state's gambling history. This milestone came with the introduction of the Massachusetts State Lottery, intended to generate revenue for the commonwealth. Initially authorized through legislation, this move allowed Bay Staters to participate in various lotto games, encompassing in-house games as well as multi-jurisdictional jackpot draws such as Mega Millions and Powerball. To engage in lottery activities in Massachusetts, individuals must be at least 18 years old, a lower age requirement compared to the state's gambling age of 21 for casino games and daily fantasy sports. Notably, online lottery play is not currently sanctioned in the state, necessitating the purchase of tickets from numerous retail outlets dispersed throughout Massachusetts. With net profits from the lottery channeled into the state's general fund, significant contributions to the commonwealth's towns and cities have been made, supporting diverse projects, including education services, parks and recreation, and local infrastructure improvements, thereby illustrating the enduring impact of legalizing lotteries in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Parimutuel Betting

Horse Racing Icon

Parimutuel betting in Massachusetts is primarily associated with horse racing, historically a popular form of gambling in the state. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) oversees and regulates this sector of the gambling industry. The concept of parimutuel betting involves pooling all bets placed on a particular race or event, with the total pool being distributed among the winners after deducting taxes and the house's share.

While dog racing was once a part of parimutuel betting in the state, it ceased following the implementation of the Massachusetts Greyhound Protection Act in 2009, which effectively banned dog racing.

Presently, Plainridge Park Casino is the sole location in Massachusetts that hosts live horse racing events eligible for parimutuel betting. Harness racing events take place at Plainridge Park, providing enthusiasts with opportunities to engage in parimutuel betting by placing bets on various aspects of the races. Bettors can wager on options like picking the winning horse, forecasting the finishing order, or betting on specific combinations.

The MGC plays a pivotal role in overseeing these betting activities, ensuring compliance with state regulations, fairness in betting processes, and the protection of bettors' interests. The commission's responsibilities encompass licensing, monitoring, and regulating these parimutuel betting events to maintain transparency and integrity within the industry.

Parimutuel betting in Massachusetts, managed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, centers on horse racing, primarily hosted at Plainridge Park Casino. The commission oversees and regulates these betting activities, ensuring compliance with state laws and fair betting practices.

Massachusetts Prohibited Gambling Activities

In Massachusetts, certain gambling activities are prohibited by law. These prohibited gambling activities include:

  • Unlicensed Gambling: Engaging in any form of gambling that is not explicitly authorized and licensed by the state is prohibited. This includes unauthorized casinos, unlicensed poker rooms, and illegal betting operations.
  • Online Gambling: Online casinos, poker sites, and sports betting platforms are not authorized or regulated within Massachusetts. Participating in or operating unlicensed online gambling activities within the state is illegal.
  • Sports Betting (Except DFS): Traditional sports betting, such as wagering on sports events at brick-and-mortar locations or through online platforms, remains illegal in Massachusetts, except for daily fantasy sports (DFS), which was legalized.
  • Unauthorized Lotteries and Raffles: Conducting lotteries, raffles, or other games of chance without proper authorization or licensing is prohibited. Only the Massachusetts State Lottery and approved charitable organizations can conduct legal lotteries and raffles.
  • Unlicensed Gaming Establishments: Operating or participating in unlicensed gambling establishments, including unauthorized card rooms or other gambling venues, violates state gambling laws.

Gambling in Massachusetts – Licensing, Tax and Fees

Tax and Fees Icon

In Massachusetts, the oversight of casino gaming falls under the purview of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), which consists of five members appointed for five-year terms, responsible for general gaming supervision and protection within the state. Casino licensing mandates a minimum capital investment of $500 million for operators, with an initial license fee of $85 million. Meanwhile, the slot parlor licensee necessitates a $125 million capital investment, along with a $25 million initial license fee, capped at a maximum of 1,250 gaming machines. Gaming vendors must pay a $15,000 license fee every three years. Taxation on casino gaming revenue stands at 25%, while the slot parlor is taxed at an effective rate of 49%, allocating 40% to the state and 9% to the Race Horse Development Fund. Moreover, the distribution of net terminal income from casinos includes allocations for education, public health, local aid, transportation infrastructure, and various developmental funds.

Important Questions for Gambling Laws of Massachusetts

Is online gambling legal in Massachusetts?

No, online gambling, including online casinos and sports betting, is not legal in Massachusetts as of the current regulations. The state has not legalized or authorized online gambling activities within its jurisdiction.

What is the minimum age requirement for engaging in online casinos, sports betting, and poker in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, online casinos, sports betting, and poker are not currently legal or authorized. Therefore, there is no specified minimum age requirement for engaging in these activities online within the state. The absence of legal provisions for online gambling in Massachusetts means that residents cannot participate in these activities via online platforms operating within the state's jurisdiction. However, for land-based casinos and some other gambling activities, the minimum age requirement is typically 21 years old in Massachusetts.

How does parimutuel betting work in Massachusetts?

Parimutuel betting is a legal form of gambling in Massachusetts, primarily offered at horse racing tracks. In this betting system, wagers are pooled together, and odds are determined by the total amount wagered on each outcome. The winning payouts are calculated by dividing the total pool of stakes (after deductions) among the winning bets.

What types of gambling are legally permissible in Massachusetts?

Permissible Gambling Types
Land-based Casinos
State Lottery
Parimutuel Betting (Horse Racing)
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)

Massachusetts permits land-based casinos, a state lottery, parimutuel betting primarily at horse racing tracks, and daily fantasy sports betting within its legal gambling offerings.

Which regulatory bodies oversee gambling activities in Massachusetts?

The primary regulatory body overseeing gambling activities in Massachusetts is the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). This commission is responsible for licensing, regulation, and supervision of casino gaming within the state. Additionally, the Massachusetts State Lottery oversees the lottery gaming operations, while specific aspects of regulation also involve the Division of Gaming Enforcement within the Attorney General’s Office, the Massachusetts Police, and the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

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Marina Kostadinova | Content Strategist

Marina Kostadinova serves as the Content Strategist for CasinoLandia, where she oversees the creation and implementation of content marketing strategies. With her expertise, she ensures that CasinoLandia's content resonates with its audience and drives engagement and growth within the online casino industry.
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