Massachusetts Sports Betting History
Given that Massachusetts is arguably, some would even say obviously, the best pound-for-pound sports state in the nation, the arrival of legal sports wagering in the Bay State has seemed a foregone conclusion since the Super Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting in 2018. All the same, the road to legalization in Massachusetts was a slow, arduous process, which began in earnest when Governor Charlie Baker filed a dozen sports betting bills in 2019, an overzealous approach that resulted in a legislative log jam as regulators and lawmakers slowly worked through Baker's wide range of bills one by one, and ultimately moved forward with none of them.
Fortunately, the onset of legal sports betting in a host of neighboring states, including New York, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, helped build momentum in Massachusetts. By 2022, motivated lawmakers were working through the fine points of new legislation.
On August 1st, 2022, Speaker Ron Mariano announced that legal sports betting was coming to the Bay State at last. Rollouts for both retail and online sports betting were planned for early 2023, allowing the Massachusetts Gaming Commission the remainder
of 2022 to process applications from sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and many more, to determine which betting providers would be licensed when the new year arrived.
A timeline of Massachusetts sports betting history is below:
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signs “Expanded Gaming Act” into law, legalizing brick and mortar casinos in designated areas across MA.
US Supreme Court strikes down federal ban on sports betting, opening the door to legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker files first bill that attempts to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts, with college sports excluded. The bill fails.
After many failed pieces of sports betting legislation, Massachusetts House representatives submit bill H. 5164, “An Act Regulating Sports Wagering.
Gov. Charlie Baker signs H. 5164, legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts state law, with a rollout of betting operations expected early in 2023.
Retail (in-person) sports betting goes live in Massachusetts.
PointsBet withdraws its application for a Category 3 gaming license in Massachusetts. Betway will pursue Category 3 license.
Mobile (online) sports betting goes live in Massachusetts, with the following 7 mobile sportsbooks having been granted licenses by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission: Barstool, BetMGM, betr, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, and WynnBet.
BallyBet and Fanatics sportsbooks projected to launch in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Sports Betting Resources
With the massive array of betting options in Massachusetts, residents of the Bay State should take note of the resources at their disposal. Below, we cover the basics of sports betting, as well as providing the info you need to find top value with Massachusetts
Study the Basics Before Betting Online in Massachusetts
With this type of bet, teams are assigned a "spread," which indicates how many points they are expected to win or lose a given matchup by. If, for example, the New England Patriots are playing the Miami Dolphins with a spread of -4.5, this indicates that the Patriots are expected to beat the Dolphins by 5 points or more. If a bettor wagers on the New England, the bet could fail even if the Pats win, should the margin of victory be insufficient to cover the spread.
When wagering on the moneyline, bettors are simply predicting which team will win the game: the margin of victory is irrelevant. Each team's odds are represented by a positive or negative number, which also indicates potential payout. The favorite's odds will be negative, and the underdog's positive, and higher numbers indicate heavier favorite. Depending on odds, payouts for moneyline wager vary dramatically, and bettors should be sure to monitor the potential payout for any moneyline wager they place.
Over/unders are a type of wager with which a bettor places money on whether the total number of points scored in a contest will be greater or less than a predetermined amount. For example, if a sportsbook sets the over/under of a game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at 8.5, and the Red Sox win 5-4, then bets on the “over” will pay out, because more than 8.5 total runs were scored. However, if the Red Sox win 5-3, the over would lose, because fewer than 8.5 total runs were scored. It's important to keep in mind that over/unders are completely unrelated to who wins/loses the matchup.
Prop bets are closely related to over/unders, and again have nothing to do with the winner or loser of a matchup, instead being tied to the outcome of a specific event that takes place during a matchup. Both player and team props are enormously popular wager categories. A player prop, as the name suggests, relates the performance of a given player. For example, a bettor might wager on whether Jayson Tatum will score more than 29.5 points, or collect fewer than 6.5 rebounds in a particular outing. Team props are tied to the performance of an entire team: Will the Boston Bruins score more than 3.5 goals on a given evening? Will the New England Patriots force more than 1.5 turnovers. The Super Bowl is by far the most famous prop betting event on the calendar, with an increasing amount of Super Bowl props having nothing whatsoever to do with the game, instead pertaining to the Super Bowl Halftime Show, pre-game coverage, etc.
Parlays—also known as “combo” or “multies”—are high-payout wagers in which several bets are combined into one, with the odds of each underlying wager, known as “legs,” multiplied to result in the single parlay's odds. Palays are enormously popular due to their versatility—bets from virtually any matchup, and across multiple sports, can be packaged into the same parlay—and because of their ability to produce high payouts with small wagers. However, it's extremely important parlay bettors understand that the entire parlay will fail if a single one of its legs loses, making parlay betting just as risky as potentially profitable.
Using Mobile Sports Betting Apps in Massachusetts
One of the top priorities for Massachusetts sports bettors should be learning the ins and outs of mobile sports betting in the Bay State. Platforms like DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM offer enticing combinations of convenience and value, with massive
sign-up promos available to new users, particularly those who register as quickly as possible, as the best sign-up promos are almost always available in the weeks immediately before and after a state legalizes sports betting. While mobile sports betting
is most commonly conducted via apps, virtually every mobile sportsbook available in Massachusetts features a versatile platform that can be accessed on a phone, computer, tablet, or any other device with web-browsing capabilities. Additionally, mobile
sportsbooks are known for their diverse, resource-heavy betting offerings, with both traditional and live wagers available almost universally. Perspective users should note that a Category 3 betting license is required for legal sportsbooks in Massachusetts,
which is different than the Category 1 license required of in-person sportsbooks, and will result in different options for mobile sports bettors than those in search of retail betting establishments.
In-person Sports Betting in Massachusetts
Having rolled out on January 31st, 2023, in-person/retail sports betting was the first legal option available in the Bay State, with a lengthy list of casinos now offering sports wagering services across Massachusetts. Even bettors who plan to conduct
their wagering via mobile apps will be interested in researching MA's retail sports betting operators, as the Massachusetts Gaming Commision can award “tethered” mobile sports betting licenses to such institutions, an alternative to the
“untethered” Category 3 licenses common amongst exclusively mobile sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel. This is likely to expand the betting options available for all users in Massachusetts.
NCAAF College Football Betting in Massachusetts
Despite the relative scarcity of college football programs in Massachusetts, the Bay State nonetheless boasts an illustrious history of college football, with Ivy League university Harvard representing the state's top historical CFB power. The bad
news is, college football fans in Massachusetts will not be permitted to wager on local college football programs throughout the season, with the possible exception of a scenario in which a Massachuhsetts-based program qualifies for a major tournament,
such as the College Football Playoff National Championship. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission reserves the right to modify regulations surrounding wagers on all college sports, so it's important for potential college sports bettors to monitor current
regulations for any college sports on which they hope to lay wagers.
NCAAB College Basketball Betting in Massachusetts
Massachusetts has an extraordinarily long relationship with college basketball, given that the game of basketball was invented by James Naismith in none other than Springfield, Massachusetts. Currently, the Bay State boasts many college basketball programs,
including Boston College, Boston University, Holy Cross, Merrimack, and the University of Massachusetts. However, it is important for sports bettors to note that while Massachusetts residents are permitted to wager on college basketball programs across
most of the nation, schools based in Massachusetts are the exception: Massachusetts residents will not be permitted to wager on any college basketball team that calls Massachusetts home. The upside is there is one caveat, which is that if any Massachusetts-based
college basketball team qualifies for the NCAA Tournament, the game they play during March Madness will be available for betting within the state.
Betting on the NBA in Massachusetts
Despite just one NBA franchise, the Boston Celtics, calling Massachusetts home, NBA betting in Massachusetts is nonetheless a top draw, given the Celtics' perennially high quality, and status as one of the two winningest NBA franchises in NBA history,
with 17 championships to their name and legends such as Larry Bird, Paul Pierce, and Bill Russell having called Boston home for years. In 2023, led by all-stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics are once again leading contenders for the NBA Championship,
just one year removed from an NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors in 2022. What's more, top sportsbooks like DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM are all known as excellent NBA betting platforms, with FanDuel in particular owning a well-deserved
reputation as a leading resource for NBA bettors, due to the sportsbook's long-running habit of offering generous NBA-based perks to its users.
Betting on the NFL in Massachusetts
Given that NFL betting is king among all sports nation wide, when you add to the mix that the New England Patriots, by far the NFL's most successful franchise since the turn of the century, play just outside of Boston, it's no wonder that football
dominates the sports betting landscape in the Bay State. Following Tom Brady's departure, the Patriots have struggled in recent years, at least compared to the Pats' extraordinary string of dominance that began when Brady took over in 2001, and
saw New England compete in nine Super Bowls, winning six of them, through 2019. All the same, the emergence of Mac Jones as New England's quarterback of the future, and the continued presence of iconic head coach Bill Belichick give Patriots fans
plenty to look forward to in the coming years.