Legal sports betting in Massachusetts is looking more likely every day. Many bills have been proposed in recent years, and lawmakers think the state is close to reaching a consensus.
Thankfully, players still have a few gambling options to enjoy while waiting. In Massachusetts, online horse betting, the state lottery, and daily fantasy sports are all 100% legal and safe.
Massachusetts gambling laws have always been strict, and the legalization of sports betting would help expand the industry. Read on as we look at all the current legal gambling options in the state.
The Status of Legal Online Gambling in Massachusetts
Daily fantasy sports and horse betting are the only legal online gambling in the state.
Online Sportsbooks in Massachusetts
Sports betting and online sportsbooks are currently illegal in the state, although players can still bet on horse racing. Lawmakers have been pushing for the legalization of sports betting since 2021. If the movement continues to gain support, a sports betting bill could be passed by the end of 2022.
Online Casinos in Massachusetts
Online casinos are not regulated, meaning all available sites are based offshore. The disadvantage of online casinos based outside the country is that local authorities do not license them. This means they do not have to follow the state’s gambling laws and can be unfair or unsafe. Unfortunately, recent efforts to legalize online sports betting have not included online casinos, so players may have to wait longer for its legalization.
Online Poker in Massachusetts
Just like online casinos, online poker is unlicensed, unregulated and illegal in Massachusetts. Be careful if you find online poker sites that accept players in Massachusetts, as they are very risky, offshore sites that do not follow state laws.
Fantasy Sports in Massachusetts
Massachusetts temporarily legalized daily fantasy sports in 2016. It was then permanently legalized in 2018, meaning players can enjoy fantasy sports 100% legally and safely. The state has four regulated sites.
Legal vs. Illegal Online Sports Betting
Legal sports betting sites are both licensed and regulated by the state they operate in. This means that the operator has applied for a license from the state’s gambling authority. The site is first checked to ensure they are fair and safe before receiving a license.
Licensed sites all meet the state’s gambling regulations, which exist to prevent sites from exploiting players. Operators sometimes partner with land-based casinos or sportsbooks in the state to give themselves a physical presence and enhance their reputation.
Since sports betting is currently illegal in Massachusetts, no licensed sites are available. Any sportsbooks you might see are illegal and based offshore, meaning they are only licensed in another country. This means that players that use these sites are at risk of identity theft and unfair business practices. This also applies to online casinos and poker sites.
Illegal Online Gaming Offered in Massachusetts
Unfortunately, illegal online gaming is very difficult to control. Many illegal offshore sportsbooks and casinos are accessible in Massachusetts, and this problem also applies to all states. Offshore sites can easily pose as legitimate betting sites online, as there is no way to prevent them from advertising online. These ads target Massachusetts players who do not know how to tell if a site is regulated.
A simple Google search for online casinos in Massachusetts will give you plenty of paid ads for offshore casinos and sportsbooks. Uninformed players could easily click one of these and create an account. Illegal sites are available for all illegal forms of betting in Massachusetts, including sports betting, casino games, and poker.
Why Offshore Betting Sites are Unsafe
There are many risks when betting at offshore sites. Massachusetts gambling laws aim to protect players from exploitative or unfair practices. The lack of regulation for offshore sites means they can ignore these rules. While some are licensed in other countries, these regions could have less strict gambling laws that do not protect players. Some sites might not even be licensed at all.
The biggest risk is to your money. Offshore sites do not have to meet the state’s security standards, meaning your money and data could be easily stolen by cybercriminals. Since the site is operating illegally, they could even try to stop you from accessing your money themselves by closing your account or being slow to pay out your winnings.
Data theft is another massive issue due to the lack of regulated security features. Giving them your personal information could lead to identity theft. This is especially important to keep in mind if the site asks you to upload identification documents like an ID or passport.
Regulated sites have to follow the state’s laws on fair play. Since offshore sites are not licensed, they could cancel your winning bets or refuse to pay out winnings. This also extends to promotions, as the site might mislead you and not grant the full bonus.
The state’s gambling regulator ensures that all licensed sites offer responsible gambling tools and resources. Many offshore sites do not have these features, making them dangerous for problem gamblers. With no options to limit bets, deposits, or playtime, it becomes much easier for players to lose control of their habits.
The fact that offshore sites are based overseas is also an issue, as these operators don’t pay tax on their revenue. Massachusetts-based gambling sites need to pay tax to the state, which could go towards community improvements. This makes spending money at offshore sites detrimental to the local community.
How to Know a Site is Legal, Regulated, and Safe
The prevalence of illegal yet easily accessible gambling sites in Massachusetts makes it important to know how to identify legal operators. Here are five easy ways to identify an unlicensed site.
- Check USGamingReview.com: This resource is the fastest way to check the legal status of a site. Here you will find details on all licensed operators in each state, and you can even filter by casino, sports, or poker. There is also a news section you can use to keep up with the latest developments in the industry.
- State Regulator: Every regulated site must be licensed in the states they operate in by the appropriate authorities. They must also provide proof of their license on the site. You can usually find the licensing details at the bottom of the page in the footer text. The state regulator’s seal is also often displayed near this.
- Cryptocurrency: All sites that list cryptocurrencies as an accepted currency are illegal. Since cryptocurrencies are a new technology, they are still illegal to gamble with. This is because there are not yet any federal or state laws to control cryptocurrencies.
- US Players Welcome: Sites that use terminology like “US Players Welcome” have a high chance of being illegal. Gambling sites in a particular state must be licensed by that state, meaning all legal sites can only accept US players from that state.
- URL: Another way to quickly check if a site is legal or not is to look at its URL. If the site’s web address does not end in ‘.com,’ then it’s probably illegal. Unlicensed sites use many different domain endings, including ‘.ag,’ ‘.lv,’ ‘.eu.’
Why Choose a Legal US Online Sports Betting Site?
Choosing a legal US betting site helps you avoid all the risks of unregulated sites. Legal options also benefit you and your state in various ways, creating a safer and more enjoyable experience.
- Fairness – All players want to get exactly what was advertised when gambling online. Legal US sites are regulated to ensure fairness in all aspects. This includes paying out bonuses and winnings in full and on time and providing fair games. Many legal sites will employ an external testing agency to test their games and ensure fairness.
- Protection – Another advantage of choosing a legal betting site is that they are guaranteed to use industry-standard security features. This includes everything from SSL encryption to KYC processes that ask you to provide identification documents. These features help protect your money and data held by the site.
- Accountability – An important characteristic of legal US online betting sites is accountability. This means the operator is held responsible for breaking the law by the state’s gambling authority. Frequent regulation is carried out to ensure sites meet the state’s standards for security, fair play, and other essential aspects. If the site is found violating these rules and exploiting players, they can have their license revoked. This also gives players the power to report sites to the state’s authority and open a dispute if they think the site is unfair.
- Responsible Gaming – Responsible gaming tools and resources are a requirement for all regulated US gambling sites. State authorities ensure that each site has a responsible gambling page. This helps protect problem gamblers. These give players tools to limit their bet amounts, deposit amounts, and playtime. A legal site must also provide links and contact details to local and national problem gamblers organizations.
- Community Benefits – The gambling industry generates plenty of revenue, which means operators must pay a large amount of tax. Licensed betting sites need to pay tax to their local government. This extra income can benefit the community by funding social development programs and building improvements like schools and hospitals.
Responsible Gaming Resources in Massachusetts
Responsible gambling resources and tools play an essential role in keeping gambling entertaining and safe. Even though most forms of gambling are unregulated, many helpful resources are still available. Every licensed gaming site needs to provide the contact details for these resources on their responsible gambling page. Here are some of the most popular responsible gaming resources you will find.
- Massachusetts Problem Gambling Helpline (MPGH): The MPGH is available 24/7 at 800-327-5050. They provide a questionnaire to help you determine if you have a gambling problem. If so, you can contact their specialist for confidential support.
- Office of Problem Gambling Services (OPGS): The OPGS runs various programs that aim to support problem gamblers. Their phone number is 617-624-5012.
- National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG): The NCPG is available to all US players. You can contact them at 1-800-522-4700 to find local treatment centers in Massachusetts.
- Gamblers Anonymous (GA): GA has over 40 meeting locations in Massachusetts. Here you can connect with others with similar problems. Visit the GA website to find a complete list of meeting locations and times.
Gaming Regulator Information
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) handles regulating and licensing land-based casinos in the state. They currently do not license or regulate any online gambling sites. This means any offshore sites you find online are not regulated in Massachusetts and do not follow the state’s gambling laws. Daily fantasy sports sites are the exception, as they are 100% legal in Massachusetts.
In all states, online casinos and sportsbooks must be reviewed by the state’s gambling regulator. If they do not meet the state’s fair play and security standards, they will not receive a license. Regulators also ensure sites offer essential services like customer support and responsible gambling resources.
They also help settle disputes between players and operators. This allows players to bring up issues they have with sites and have a fair discussion with the operator. If the regulator finds that the site is violating any state gambling laws, they could have their license revoked.
History of Online Gambling Legislation
There are very few regulated forms of online gambling in Massachusetts. Online casinos are unregulated, and all sports betting is illegal in the state. It is best to avoid these sites until these forms of online gambling are legalized and officially regulated. Recent pushes for the legalization of sports betting means that players could soon enjoy 100% legal online sportsbooks.
Gambling in Massachusetts began in 1971 when the state lottery was introduced. This was the only legal form of gambling until 2011 when the Expanded Gaming Act was introduced. This legalized the building of three land-based casinos. These were built in 2015, 2018, and 2019, making the state’s gambling industry quite young. Online casinos remain unregulated because of this.
Horse racing is the only legal form of sports betting in Massachusetts. Greyhound betting was legal until the Massachusetts Greyhound Protection Act banned it in 2009. Lawmakers started pushing for sports betting legalization in 2021 when the House passed House Bill 3974 with a vote of 156-3.
Is online gambling legal in Massachusetts?
Yes, online daily fantasy sports and horse betting are legal in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, online casinos and sportsbooks are not currently legal. If you see these forms of online gambling advertised online, they will be illegal offshore sites. Thankfully, sports betting has a high chance of becoming legal soon.
Since online gambling is not legal in Massachusetts, is choosing an illegal offshore site safe?
No, illegal offshore sites are unsafe. These sites are not licensed or regulated by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. This means they do not have to follow the state’s gambling laws, which exist to protect players.
What are the risks of playing at an illegal offshore online sports betting site?
Playing at an offshore site puts your money and data at risk due to the lack of regulation. These sites often have insufficient security features and unfair business practices. Some may even be a scam and refuse to pay out your winnings.
Can I bet at legal US sportsbooks using cryptocurrencies?
No, betting online with cryptocurrencies is illegal. Cryptocurrencies are not backed by the US government and only exist online. Some offshore sites accept cryptocurrencies, which is an easy way to spot an illegal site.