Gaming Laws in Massachusetts
After having only horse and dog racing and lottery to play for most of the state's history, Boston residents will finally have more gambling options in the very near future. In 2011, the Expanded Gaming Act was passed.
Expanded Gaming Act
Signed into law on November 22 by Governor Deval Patrick, the Expanded Gaming Act allowed for up to three Vegas-style resort casinos and one slot parlor in the state of Massachusetts. Two of those three resorts have been approved, as the MGM Springfield and the Wynn Everett are expected to open in those respective cities in 2017.
Opponents of the original law received enough support to get the Affordable Casino Repeal Initiative on the ballot in November of 2014. Had this passed, the law approving casinos in Massachusetts would have been repealed. But with 60% of the vote those in favor of keeping the casinos won and kept development plans on track.
In 2014, Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenberg said “I personally don't see how you avoid it,” when asked about online gaming. While no laws are imminent, Rosenberg and others in Massachusetts seem to have an open mind towards online gaming and could be among the next wave of states to legalize it.
Sports Betting in Massachusetts
Despite having plenty of laws in place regarding illegal gaming in the state of Massachusetts, none of those laws make any mention of sports gambling. The closest the general laws come to it are in Chapter 271, Section 1 which states that anyone who wins “five dollars or more” by “gaming or betting on the sides or hands of those gaming” shall “forfeit double the value of such money or goods”. This seems to refer to private gaming though, which does not explicitly include things such as public sporting events.
Laws are in place against betting in public, accepting bets and owning a property that allows illegal gambling. Nothing in these laws however states that gambling at offshore sportsbooks is illegal.
There is no mention of online gambling at all in Massachusetts law. Bettors in the state should feel safe taking their action offshore as the state of Massachusetts has no jurisdiction over sportsbooks in other countries. With no laws in place prohibiting sports gambling or online gambling, it should come as no surprise that there have been no arrests or charges in the state against citizens that have gambled on sports online.
Poker and Casino in Massachusetts
Live poker and casinos are on their way in Massachusetts, but they haven't opened up just yet. The state's first slot parlor called Plainridge Park Casino is set to open in June of 2015, and will be followed by the major casinos in Springfield and Everett around 2017. In the meantime, Massachusetts residents looking to enjoy live casino action are forced to travel to neighboring states.
With no legal poker rooms available in the state of Massachusetts, resident poker players are left only with the option of using an offshore poker room to play. Relatively speaking, Massachusetts residents can feel pretty safe playing poker online compared to residents in some other US states.
For starters, there is no mention of poker in the Massachusetts gambling laws. Playing cards as an illegal act is only mentioned when “gaming or betting in public” or “while trespassing in private place”. Since betting in one's own home is neither of these, there is no legal precedent to charge someone for playing poker online. Furthermore, there is no mention of internet gambling in the laws, and no poker player in the state of Massachusetts has been charged with a crime for playing poker online.
Other Gaming Options in Massachusetts
While horse and dog racing were once more popular across the state, Massachusetts now has only one active racetrack in the Plainridge Racecourse. Plainridge offers harness horse racing and simulcast wagering of other races around the country. Suffolk Downs and Raynham Park also have simulcast wagering with no live races.
The Massachusetts Lottery was established in 1971 and offers a series of local draws and scratch cards as well as the national Mega Millions and Powerball draws. Popular local games include “The Numbers Game”, Keno, Jackpot Poker, Mass Cash and the Megabucks Doubler.