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Is Sports Betting Legal in Massachusetts? Launch Timeline

Martin Green for Bookies.com

Martin Green  | 8 mins

Is Sports Betting Legal in Massachusetts? Launch Timeline

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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker officially legalized sports betting in the Bay State when he signed HB 5164 on August 10. The Massachusetts Sports Wagering Act will permit up to 15 online betting sites to launch, creating the most competitive market in New England.

Many sports fans in the state are now wondering: When will sports betting be legal in Massachusetts? The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) still needs to nail down the regulations, issue licenses and conduct software tests before Massachusetts legal sports betting can begin.

This guide explains when the first betting apps could be cleared to launch in Massachusetts. We have broken down the Massachusetts sports betting bill, highlighted the sportsbooks that will be available and listed the sports you will be able to bet on.

When will Sports Betting be Legal in Massachusetts?

We are often asked: Is sports betting legal in Massachusetts? The answer is yes, but the first USA sports betting sites have not yet been given the green light to launch. There have been conflicting messages from lawmakers in the state regarding a potential launch date. Sen. Michael Rodrigues, who was part of the legislative committee that agreed on the Massachusetts Sports Wagering Act, said he believed it could start in time for Week 1 of the NFL season. That begins on September 8, when the Rams host the Bills at SoFi Stadium.

Another member of the committee, Sen. Eric Lesser, gave a radio interview in which he stated that October was a realistic target for the launch of legal sports betting in Massachusetts. That sparked excitement among Bay State bettors. However, Commissioner Brad Hill of the MGC then tried to temper expectations by insisting that the launch would “take a little longer than people probably anticipate.”

Some states have rolled out legal sports betting quickly after the bill was signed, whereas others have taken more than a year. The MGC has suggested that it could take three to six months, so we hope to see the first legal sports betting Massachusetts operators cleared to launch before the end of 2022. 

Retail sports betting could start first at five eligible venues – three casinos and two racetracks. If you are wondering if online sports betting legal in Massachusetts, bookmark this page and we will update you with a launch date for the first online operators and any potential betting offers as soon as the information is available.

What is the Massachusetts Sports Betting Bill?

HB 5164 paves the way for up to 15 online sportsbooks to launch in Massachusetts. That includes seven standalone licenses. Each of the state’s three casinos – Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park – can host two online sportsbooks on their master licenses. There are two racetracks in Massachusetts, Raynham Park and Suffolk Downs, and they can each host a single online skin. Each of those five venues can also host a retail sportsbook.

The Massachusetts sports betting bill includes a 20% tax on online sports betting revenue and a 15% tax on retail sports wagering revenue. The House wanted a significantly lower tax rate, whereas the Senate wanted a far higher rate, so they ultimately compromised. Senators and representatives also clashed over college sports betting. The Senate was against it, but they eventually agreed on another compromise. 

College sports wagering is permitted, but not on games featuring in-state teams such as Boston College or UMass. Credit card payments were also prohibited in the bill that saw Massachusetts legalize sports betting.

Massachusetts Sports Betting History

  • April 28, 2022 – The Senate passes a heavily amended version of the Massachusetts sports betting bill previously approved in the House. It calls for high tax rates and a ban on college sports wagering.
  • May 17, 2022 – The House decides to reject the Senate’s amendments to the Massachusetts sports betting bill, meaning a conference will be required.
  • May 26, 2022 – House speaker Ron Mariano attacks the Senate sports betting proposal, calling it “paternalistic” and railing against plans to exclude college sports.
  • July 28, 2022 – The state’s three casinos write a joint letter to lawmakers, asking them to make legal sports betting Massachusetts a reality before the end of the legislative session.
  • July 28, 2022 – Gov. Baker implores representatives and senators to resolve their differences and get a bill on his desk.
  • August 1, 2022 – The Sports Betting Conference Committee, featuring prominent senators and representatives, votes 36-4 in favor of a compromise bill, HB 5164, sending it to Gov. Baker’s desk to usher in Massachusetts legal sports betting.
  • August 10, 2022 – Gov. Baker signs the Massachusetts sports betting bill into law.

Which Sportsbooks Will be Available at Launch?

The two most obvious contenders are BetMGM and WynnBet BetMGM’s co-owner, MGM Resorts International, owns MGM Springfield. That gives it easy market access. The same is true of WynnBET, as parent company Wynn Resorts owns Encore Boston Harbor. They should be two of the first sportsbooks to launch.

DraftKings is a Boston-based company, so it will be determined to launch on Day 1. Anyone asking, 'is online sports betting legal in Massachusetts?' has probably been thinking about DraftKings. It is the second most popular sportsbook in the country, but it has a great chance of being the market leader in the Bay State.

FanDuel, the leading online sportsbook in the United States, is also likely to be at the vanguard of the Bay State’s sports wagering industry. Caesars sportsbook and BetRivers also tend to be some of the first USA sports betting apps to go live when a new state rolls out a legal industry. Now that we know the answer to the key question – is sports betting legal in Massachusetts? – they can start preparing for launch. Barstool also started out in Boston, so it is another leading contender, along with PointsBet, Unibet and SI Sportsbook.

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Why has Massachusetts Legalized Online Sports Betting?

Consumer demand ultimately inspired Massachusetts to legalize online sports betting. Sports fans in the state have been placing wagers for many years, either at unregulated offshore sportsbooks or neighborhood bookies. Since the advent of legal sports wagering in the United States, bettors will have been heading over the border into New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island or New York to place sports bets.

Lawmakers introduced legal sports betting in Massachusetts to protect consumers from unregulated offshore operators. They also wanted to benefit from tax revenues. Right now, bettors are leaving the state and bolstering the coffers of neighboring states by playing at their sportsbooks, so Massachusetts decided to act.

Why You Should Only Use a Legal Regulated Sportsbook

You will benefit from consumer protection laws if you place wagers at a legal, regulated sportsbook in Massachusetts. Licensed operators will need to uphold strict regulatory conditions, and you can be confident they will pay you out in full and on time.

That is not the case when you use unregulated, offshore sportsbooks. They do not fall under the jurisdiction of the state or federal authorities. Most are based in Costa Rica, which does not have a gaming commission, so nobody has oversight of their operations. They may pay out if you win, but that is never guaranteed. There are lots of scam sites offshore.

It is also difficult to send them money. They often charge credit card deposit fees, and foreign exchange charges can apply. These sportsbooks encourage customers to use crypto, which also leads to network fees and other issues. They also impose huge rollover requirements on their bonuses, and their software is often very basic. You will enjoy a much better all-round user experience at legal Massachusetts betting sites.

What Age Will You Need to be to Legally Bet in Massachusetts?

You will need to be 21 or older to enjoy legal sports betting in Massachusetts. The retail sportsbooks will require you to provide photo ID if they think you look underage. When signing up with an online sportsbook, you will be asked for your date of birth, address and digits from your SSN to verify your age. You may need to upload a photo ID too.

Which Sports Will You be Able to Bet on in Massachusetts?

All professional sports will be available at Massachusetts sportsbooks. For those wondering, is sports betting legal in Massachusetts, you will soon be able to bet on:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Hockey
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • MMA
  • Boxing
  • Motorsports

Sportsbooks will often cover 10-15 additional sports, from alpine skiing and Aussie Rules to volleyball and water polo. College sports betting on in-state teams will only be allowed if they reach an NCAA tournament.

Will Daily Fantasy Sports be Legal?

Daily Fantasy Sports contests have been legal in Massachusetts since 2016. Gov. Baker signed the legislation that year. DraftKings and FanDuel are the state’s leading DFS operators.

Will Online Casino Games be Legal?

The Massachusetts Sports Wagering Act does not cover online casino games. Online slots, table games and live dealer games remain prohibited in the Bay State.

About the Author

Martin Green for Bookies.com
Martin Green
Martin Green spent five years working at William Hill before becoming a journalist in 2009. He began working as a sports writer and professional tipster in 2014.