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Massachusetts Casinos & Gambling

Massachusetts Regulated Gambling:

Pari-Mutuel Betting 1934

Lottery 1971

Charitable Gaming 1971

State Casinos 2012

Fantasy Contests 2016

Gambling Age in Massachusetts:

Charitable Gaming/Lottery/Pari-Mutuel Betting 18+

Fantasy Sports/State Casinos 21+

Massachusetts Casinos:

State Casinos 2/Slot Parlor 1

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Gambling Overview

Gambling in the state dates back centuries to the early lotteries. Legal forms of gambling in Massachusetts include charitable gaming, licensed horse racing pari-mutuels, DFS, and a state lottery. In 2011, 3 state casinos were authorized in Massachusetts, although there are presently only 2 in operation in addition to a slot parlor. The state also has two American Indian tribes attempting to gain approval to build and operate tribal casinos. Commercial operations, including casinos and pari-mutuel wagering, are regulated by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Online gambling is illegal, and there are presently no Bills to change that. The General Court passed a Bill authorizing the launch of a study on the subject in 2016.

Massachusetts has been slow to adopt sports betting after spending 3+ years studying and considering it. Several Bills, including Massachusetts Bill SD 2365 filed in February 2021, are attempting to legalize sports betting. SD.177 was submitted to regulate sports wagering. Massachusetts has been losing much-needed revenue to New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and New York in recent years. There is a general expectation that Massachusetts sports betting will become legal in 2021 and likely be launched in 2022.

Lottery

The Massachusetts Lottery offers instant tickets. Several state draws are also available, including keno, Jackpot Poker, All or Nothing, The Numbers Game, Megabucks Doubler, and Mass Cash. It also offers multistate draws, including Mega Millions, Lucky for Life, and Powerball. Massachusetts withholds 5% of winnings over $600, considerably lower than the $5,000 of many other states.

Charitable Gaming

Non-profit organizations are permitted to offer gambling to raise money. Permitted games include raffles, casino nights (bazaars), bridge & whist, and bingo. Golden age clubs for senior citizen organizations can run bingo games with less oversight when prizes are no more than $100.

Pari-Mutuel Racing

Massachusetts regulates live and simulcast harness and thoroughbred horse racing as well as pari-mutuel racing on both. Advance deposit wagering is also permitted. Greyhound racing in the state ended on January 1st, 2010, after a November 2008 ballot to end the practice.

Fantasy Sports

Daily fantasy sports falls under regulation 940 CMR 34.00. Amateur, college, and high school sports are prohibited from use in fantasy sports betting. Massachusetts players may hold just one account at an operator and may not deposit more than $1,000 in a calendar month. Operators must ensure that players can afford losses based on provided information concerning assets and income. Temporary increases to the deposit limit are permitted provided that the player has the financial means to withstand losses.

Land-Based (State) Casinos

Presently, Massachusetts has 2 state casinos and a racetrack & slot parlor scattered throughout the state. They can legally provide slots, video poker, and electronic table games, including blackjack, craps, roulette, poker rooms & tournaments. Plainridge Park Casino is a slot parlor also allowing live and simulcast racing wagering.

Massachusetts has 2 federally recognized native tribes attempting to open a tribal casino on reservation land. These are the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head in Aquinnah and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Taunton.

Massachusetts has a history of casino cruises where gambling boats would leave state borders for outside waters. This included the Vegas Express between 1998 and 1999, El Dorado, and Southern Elegance beginning in 1999. Aquasino was the last cruise boat that ran for a few months in 2013.

State Casinos & Slot Parlor Address Website
Plainridge Park Casino *(Racetrack & Slot Parlor) 301 Washington St, Plainville, MA 02762 plainridgeparkcasino.com
Encore Boston Harbor Casino 1 Broadway, Everett, MA 02149 encorebostonharbor.com
MGM Springfield Casino 1 MGM Way, Springfield, MA 01103 mgmspringfield.mgmresorts.com

Massachusetts Gambling History

Lotteries in colonial Massachusetts were common until they were banned in 1719. A public lottery was again authorized in 1745, and 15+ draws in 1749 to 1761. The frequency of lotteries became frowned upon, leading to a ban in 1833. In modern times, the Massachusetts lottery was created in 1971, with the first draw held a year later.

Massachusetts charitable fundraisers were legalized in stages: Whist and bridge in 1932, Beano in 1934 before banned again in 1943, a bazaar in 1969, Beano in 1971. A local election is required to decide what is permissible.

In 1934, the Massachusetts State Racing Commission was created. That same year, horse and dog race betting was legalized. The following year saw Suffolks Downs opened primarily for thoroughbred racing. Sadly, it held its last race in 2019. 1935 also saw Wonderland Greyhound Park and Taunton Dog Track opened, followed by Raynham Greyhound Park in 1941. Harness racing was introduced in 1947. Taunton closed in 1981 and became part of Raynham track. The remaining tracks closed at the end of 2009 when dog racing in Massachusetts was banned.

A fair circuit allowing horse and dog racing at agricultural fairs statewide was typical until 2005 but were notorious vehicles for race-fixing. The state racing commission was transferred to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in May 2012.

In 2011 Democrat Deval Patrick signed the Expanded Gaming Act into law to establish 3 resort casinos in different parts of Massachusetts. Furthermore, a single slots facility would be placed in one location in the state. In a statewide ballot in November 2014, efforts to repeal the 2011 law allowing resort casinos was defeated.

The Mashpee tribe received approval for a casino in 2015. However, a year later (2016), a court overturned land-into-trust approval necessary, which suspended the project. In 2018, the Aquinnah tribe began plans to build a casino at a site on reservation land.

Regulation 940 CMR 34.00 was introduced on July 1st, 2016, to regulate daily fantasy sports.

Massachusetts Gambling FAQ

Is pari-mutuel betting legal in Massachusetts?

Yes, pari-mutuel wagering on live and simulcast horse and greyhound racing is legal.

Does Massachusetts have a state lottery?

The Massachusetts Lottery offers instant tickets, state draws (Jackpot Poker, All or Nothing, The Numbers Game, keno, Mass Cash, Megabucks Doubler), and multistate draws.

Does Massachusetts have land-based casinos?

Currently, Massachusetts has 2 commercial casinos and 1 slot parlor.

Is sports betting legal in Massachusetts?

No, sports betting is currently not legal in Massachusetts. However, several Bills have been submitted in 2021 to legalize and regulate it.

Is online gambling legal in Massachusetts?

No, online gambling is not legal in Massachusetts. There are no efforts underway to change this.

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