Massachusetts Sports Betting
Sports betting is finally legal in Massachusetts! After years of trying, legislative leaders finally hammered a compromise that was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker on August 10, 2022.
With neighboring states New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, along with close-by Pennsylvania and New Jersey, all having some form of legalized sports betting, the topic of legalization has become a more important one lately. Sports betting is thankfully coming to Massachusetts by early 2023 at the latest, making MA the final northeastern commonwealth/state not named Vermont to legalize the activity.
Read on for more information about how we got here, when exactly sports betting will launch in MA, what all this means for bettors in the state, which sportsbooks (besides DraftKings) will likely come to the state, what impact this will have on the existing competition from neighboring states, and answers to your frequently asked questions.
MA Sports Betting Legislative Information
H 5164, a bill to legalize sports betting statewide, including mobile betting, was signed into law on August 10, 2022. The bill includes several provisions of interest to sportsbooks and sports bettors. Let’s go over the details:
- 15% tax on retail bets
- 20% tax on mobile bets
Who qualifies for a license?
- 15 total mobile sports betting licenses will be available
- The three casinos in the state each qualify for a retail sports betting license plus two online skins
- The two horse racing facilities in the state can offer retail sports betting and qualify for one online skin
- Many more will apply, but seven operators will be approved for a mobile-only license without having to be affiliated with, or “tethered” to, an existing casino or horse racing track
- Operators must pay a $1,000,000 application fee and $5 million license fee once approved
- Betting on college sports is allowed under the bill, but Massachusetts schools are off limits unless they are playing in a “tournament”
- Sportsbooks are required to use official league data
- Mobile sportsbooks are required to display a gambling hotline number every time a bet is placed on their website or app
Sports Teams in Massachusetts
People in Massachusetts are obsessed with sports, and the state’s professional sports teams are extremely popular. The Pats, Celts, Sox, and B’s are ingrained into the fabric of the Commonwealth, with each generation growing up fans of all four teams. Sports are a much bigger part of life there than other parts of the country. Let’s go over the sports teams and their team and/or league sportsbook partnerships:
New England Patriots
Like everywhere else, the NFL is king in MA, with the Patriots consistently being ranked in polls as the state’s most popular sports team. The Patriots have a partnership with hometown favorite DraftKings. The NFL, meanwhile, has several official sportsbook partners: BetMGM, Betway, Caesars Sportsbook, PointsBet, WynnBET, and FanDuel.
The Celtics did not wait for sports betting to be legalized in MA before seeking out a sportsbook partner. They didn’t have to go very far to find their partner, with industry king DraftKings headquartered right down the street from the team’s home arena in downtown Boston. This natural partnership between the NBA’s Celtics and DraftKings will serve both parties well as legal sports betting becomes as popular in MA as it already is in neighboring states, which are also filled with Celtics fans. The NBA has partnerships with Bally Bet, Bet365, Betsafe, Unibet, Betway, PointsBet, Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, and FanDuel.
The popular NHL team does not currently have any sports betting partnerships, but the NHL has gone all-in on sports betting, partnering with seven different operators: PointsBet, Bally Bet, Bet365, BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings, and Betway. The league even took an equity stake in PointsBet, which pretty much solidifies which side of the gambling fence the sport is on.
Boston Red Sox
While the Sox may be Boston’s team, they only have two sportsbook partners: BetMGM and DraftKings. As for the MLB, the league has several sportsbook sponsors, including BetMGM, Bally Bet, Betsafe, FanDuel, FOX Bet, and DraftKings, along with many other “authorized gaming operators” that pay to use official league data.
New England Revolution
The little brother of the other big-four sports teams plays MLS soccer in the same stadium as the Patriots and is mostly a bilp on the sports radar, even with the increasing popularity of the MLS nationwide. Regardless, they stand to benefit from legalized sports betting, and will possibly partner with a sportsbook someday. MLS as a league has partnered with BetMGM, making the company its official sportsbook partner.
The PGA Tour is not a team, but it does come to the Boston area pretty regularly, drawing huge crowds to the Northern Trust tour event. DraftKings, BetPARX, BetMGM, FanDuel, PointsBet, and Bet365 are all official sportsbook partners of the PGA Tour, with DraftKings even opening up a sportsbook at the Tour stop in Arizona and BetPARX doing the same in Ohio.
Colleges and Universities
While colleges and the NCAA are steering clear of sportsbook partnerships, the fact remains that betting on college sports is very popular. The collegiate sports teams in MA have a strong base of support but are left out of the sports betting industry in the state due to the prohibition on wagering on MA college teams. The eight Division 1 teams in the state include:
- Boston College
- UMass Amherst
- UMass Lowell
- Boston University
- Merrimack College
- Holy Cross
You can’t write a page about sports betting in MA without discussing DraftKings, the undisputed King of Sports Betting Companies Based in Massachusetts. DraftKings started in Boston back in 2012 as one of the first Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) operators. The company’s founders most likely saw legalized sports betting on the horizon and figured DFS was as close as they could get until the laws were changed. Whatever their strategy, it paid off, because DraftKings is a juggernaut. The company is #1 or #2 in revenue in almost every state in which it operates. Being number one in Massachusetts would be a feather in their cap.
To that end, they have stayed true to their Boston roots, growing in the city and currently occupying a huge space in the Back Bay neighborhood. And they have partnered with the Boston Celtics and the NFL, in addition to many other partnerships nationwide. When sports betting launches in MA, DraftKings will pull out all the stops to be the most popular sportsbook in the state.
Other Likely MA Online Sportsbooks
If DraftKings is the presumptive favorite to win the battle for sportsbook supremacy in the Bay State, who will be their competition? As mentioned above, under the pending legislation, the three land-based casinos in the state will be able to offer sports betting. In addition to retail sports betting, the three casinos, owned by MGM, Wynn, and Penn National, will be bringing their online brands to the mobile market as well. That means BetMGM, WynnBET, and Barstool Sportsbook will likely be the first online sportsbooks out of the gate.
Under the pending legislation, unlike some other states, up to seven operators in MA will not have to be tied to a land-based casino in order to operate mobile sports betting. The mobile-only license model will benefit online-focused operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel, both of which could immediately apply for licenses.
When sports betting becomes legal in Massachusetts, many of the same operators we see in other states will open their doors in the Bay State. In addition to DraftKings and FanDuel, the following operators are expected to make their way to the state once sports betting is legalized:
- FOX Bet
- Caesars Sportsbook
- Bally Bet
- Hard Rock Sportsbook
The following operators currently operate retail casinos in the state, and will definitely go live, both retail and online, as soon as possible.
- BetMGM – MGM Springfield Casino
- WynnBET – Encore Boston Harbor
- Barstool Sportsbook – Plainridge Park Casino
Competition From Neighboring States
Massachusetts has competition for sports betting revenue to its north, west, and south. Maine, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island all have some form of legalized sports betting.
New York accepted its first sports bet in July 2019 and added mobile betting in January 2022. New Hampshire legalized sports betting in 2019 and offers both online and retail sports betting, albeit with DraftKings having a monopoly as the only operator in the state.
Rhode Island opened its doors to sports betting in November 2018 under a monopoly model run by the state lottery. Almost a year later, in September 2019, online and mobile betting went live in Rhode Island. Vermont remains the only state bordering MA that does not offer sports betting.
Who will be able to wager in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, the legal gambling age is 21 for casinos. For lottery, bingo, and racing, the legal age to place a wager is 18. When sports betting goes live in Massachusetts, the legal age to place a sports wager will be 21. To place a legal sports bet in Massachusetts, the bettor will have to be physically within state boundaries, both for retail and mobile wagering.
What Betting Options Will Be Available in Massachusetts?
The state will offer all of the common wagers you see everywhere else, including moneyline, point spread, totals, futures, props, parlays, teasers, and more. The same will go for the sports that are offered, with all of the major sports leagues having a wide variety of betting options. Wagering on non-MA colleges will be allowed.
Is it legal to bet on sports in Massachusetts?
Yes, sports betting is legal in Massachusetts, but sportsbooks are not yet licensed to operate in the state. We expect an early 2023 launch date.
Who will oversee sports betting in Massachusetts?
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will oversee sports betting in the state.
What is the legal age to bet on sports in Massachusetts?
The legal age to bet on sports in Massachusetts will match the state’s legal gambling age of 21.
Is online/mobile sports betting legal in Massachusetts?
When Massachusetts sports betting launches, online and mobile sports betting will be offered.
Which casinos in Massachusetts offer retail sports betting?
None at this time, but we expect MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, and Plainridge Park Casino to offer sports betting in person and online as soon as they are able to do so. The state’s two horse tracks will also be authorized to offer retail sports betting.