Welcome to Massachusetts where you will find a wide range of online gambling and land based gaming variety. Quite a progressive state, in terms of offering, but not with the exuberance of a Las Vegas or broad expansive openness of New Jersey.
In 2011 the state effectively passed the Expanded Gaming Act, a law which limits the number of casinos to a maximum of 3 and one slot parlor (this Act excludes casinos that could be established on native American land title, which is governed by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
The Expanded Gaming Act stipulates that the 3 casinos must reside, one each, in established areas in Massachusetts referenced as Region A, B and C.
- Region A – Suffolk, Middlesex, Essex, Norfolk and Worcester counties
- Region B – Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties
- Region C – Bristol, Plymouth, Nantucket, Dukes and Barnstable counties
There is currently two operating land based casinos with a third being built and due for completion by early 2020.
There are several native American casinos that have currently paused operating due to legal disputes in regards to land title, or with official federal approval and recognition. Once these disputes are resolved there should be a greater variety of games on offer at Massachusetts.
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Massachusetts Online Gambling
Although online casinos are not formally legal in Massachusetts, there is very little risk, if any, of Massachusetts Players being charged by law enforcement. This is typical of many US States due to the complex, ambiguous and outdated gambling laws that still exist in an era of the internet. Law enforcement agencies simply do not have the capability to monitor online players, nor do they see playing at online casinos warranting the charges that the law would invoke. This is similar treatment to laws prohibiting jaywalking.
On the other hand, “operating” an online casino is not the same as “playing” at an online casino. Operating an online casino is illegal and bears much more weight of the law than playing. Law enforcement agencies will charge operators, will shut down illegal online casinos that are established onshore, but not offshore.
Massachusetts ranks as the 7th in the US for playing at offshore online casinos. Wagering an estimated $35.0 million per year, it ranks just above Ohio and behind Pennsylvania. The state with the largest wagering for offshore online casino is California at $180 million.
Overview of Massachusetts Casinos
There are over ten casinos operating in Massachusetts, offering over ten thousand slot machines and over four hundred tables. The casinos are a mix of tribal, commercial and parlor. A maximum of three commercial casinos are permitted in the state, approved by the passing of the bill Expanded Gaming Act in 2011.
In the past casino cruises were also available for international water gambling, but this is no longer available.
Plainridge Park Casino
301 Washington Street, Plainville, Massachusetts
Plainridge is a slots only casino/parlor in Plainville. The slots Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) of Plainridge Park Casino exceeded $14m for the month of December 2018 and is taxed at a rate of 49% as it falls into the category of Class II gaming.
The parlor is owned by Gaming Leisure Properties but is leased back to Penn National at $25 million per year.
The casino sits on 106,000 square feet with expansion and renovations taking place. Its current facility offers 1,250 slots and other gaming machines. It is very well taken care of, has great food, prompt service and a friendly environment.
1 Monarch Place, Springfield, Massachusetts
Owned by MGM Resorts International MGM Springfield was renovated and relaunched on August 24, 2018. The first few months were a struggle to produce the gaming revenue as forecast with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The GGR dropped from $27m (Sep 18) to $22m (Oct 18) to $21m (Nov 18) for the first three months after launch. The revenue has slowly improved since early 2019, showing promise in the investment by MGM. There is approximately 500,000 visitors per month.
The 125,000 sq ft of gaming space including 2,550 slot machines and 120 gaming tables including a poker room and a high-limit VIP gaming area. Great casino with a lavish environment.
Encore Boston Harbor
Currently under construction and is expected to launch in 2020 at a cost of over $2 billion by its owners, Wynn Resorts. Wynn Resorts is owned by Steve Wynn, one of the most well know casino operators in the world. Due to controversy regarding his influence of sports betting markets and odds, several bills proposing changes to the sports betting laws in Massachusetts have stalled indefinitely.
Sports betting remain illegal in the state of Massachusetts. In early 2019, there were high hopes of a bill passing through to legalize sports betting but alas, it has stalled. Non-bipartisan agreement was achieved, coupled with controversy of the the Steve Wynn (who owns Wynn Resorts) saga of sports betting fixing, sunk any hope of sports betting become a reality in this state. The next best thing for sports bettors is to look at Daily Fantasy Sports which is legal and available to Massachusetts residents.
Along with many other US States, Massachusetts permits the ownership of slot machines if they are deemed to be an “antique”. A slot machines is defined as being an antique…. if it was manufactured at least thirty years.. from the date of being audited by enforcement agencies.
Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily Fantasy Sport (DFS) was temporarily legalized in 2018. This is highly unusually, and is not typical of any US States approach to establishing a governance framework for DFS, let alone any form of gambling. The temporary legalization effectively allowed DFS to continue in its current format legally. This approach sought to “buy” time, while a permanent legal framework and in particular tax rate imposition on Players is discussed and agreed upon.
A Lawyer’s Opinion
Massachusetts has a positive relationship with land-based casinos offering many types of traditional casino games, dog and horse race tracks and off-track betting, and a recently legalized fantasy sports betting landscape. See M.G.L. 271§1 et seq.
Sports Betting: Online betting on fantasy sports is now legal in Massachusetts, permitting FanDuel, DraftKings and others to operate within the state so long as they follow the regulations on operation. Thus, general sportsbook making, remains prohibited. Individuals who wish to make online sportsbooks, thus, must do so through platforms operating outside of the state.
Race Betting: Like in many states, horse and dog race betting is legal in Massachusetts at its racing tracks as well as other venues that allow pari-mutuel betting. Online betting is also available and individuals may place online bets through many domestic and offshore operators, such as BetAmerica.
Online Gambling: Online gambling is likely inevitable in the state though congressmen are waiting to better understand its nuances before organizing online gambling within its borders. For the time being, individuals wishing to participate in online gambling, including poker and other such games of skill, must place bets online through platforms operating outside of the state.
Online Gaming: Social online gaming and real cash prizes and jackpots are permitted though online skill game platforms, like DoubleDown and others that accept Massachusetts residents.
Disclaimer: The information in this multi-state research is made available by a licensed, U.S. attorney, and is for informational purposes only. We make no representations that the information is complete or correct in its entirety. It should not be construed as providing specific legal advice, and you acknowledge that no attorney/client relationship exists between us. This brief should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed gambling and entertainment lawyer in your state.
Wikipedia: Gambling in Massachusetts.