17 Questions, 17 Days Before Massachusetts Online Sportsbooks Launch
Online sports betting in Massachusetts is expected to launch March 10 at 10 a.m. ET.
With famously passionate fans following successful franchises, led by the sports-crazed Boston metropolitan area, Massachusetts figures to have one of the biggest online sportsbook launches since Congress repealed PASPA in 2018.
And that launch is just 17 days away.
So, we decided to round up 17 of the most pressing, popular, and lingering questions about the launch of MA sportsbook apps. Then, we answered each one with the best possible insight and information currently available.
1. Which sports betting apps will be available?
There will be seven Massachusetts sports betting apps available on March 10:
- Caesars Sportsbook
- Barstool Sportsbook
PointsBet pulled its Massachusetts online license application this week.
Fanatics Sportsbook and Bally Bet will launch in May. Betway will launch in 2024.
2. How many retail sportsbooks are there?
There are currently three retail sportsbooks in Massachuetts, and they’re all at the three state casinos:
- Encore Boston Harbor, located just north of downtown Boston, has a WynnBET Sportsbook.
- MGM Springfield, in Springfield, has a BetMGM Sportsbook.
- Plainridge Park Casino, located in Plainville, 54 miles south of Boston, has a Barstool Sportsbook.
Why isn’t Caesars Sportsbook at Raynham Park open yet?
Raynham Park, one of Massachusetts’ two horse racing simulcast facilities, inked a deal with Caesars Sportsbook for a retail sportsbook at its property. That news was announced a month ago.
So how come there’s no retail Caesars Sportsbook Massachusetts yet?
Well, Raynham Park still has to get approval from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to offer sports betting. The MGC will discuss when it will review Raynham Park’s license application at its Feb. 23 meeting.
3. Will more sportsbooks launch in the future?
Yes. Both retail and online.
Massachusetts law allows for up to 15 online sports betting apps: seven untethered licenses, six licenses tethered to Massachusetts casinos, and two licenses tethered to the state’s simulcast facilities (Suffolk Downs and Raynham Park).
So far, these are the 10 licenses that have been awarded:
|License Type||How Many Approved||List of Approved|
|Tethered||5||BetMGM (MGM Springfield)
WynnBET (Encore Boston Harbor)
Barstool Sportsbook (Plainridge Park Casino)
Caesars Sportsbook (Encore Boston Harbor)
Fanatics Sportsbook (Plainridge Park Casino)
That means two more untethered online licenses are available, as well as three more tethered licenses — one more for MGM Springfield, one for Suffolk Downs, and one for Raynham Park.
Bet365 was originally partnered with Raynham Park for its tethered online license, but that deal fell through.
Why isn’t BetRivers launching?
When the list of sports betting operators pursuing licenses came out, there was one glaring omission:
In terms of share of the US sports betting market, BetRivers is a top-five brand. And, with the size of Boston and professional sports fandom almost like religion in the state, Massachusetts figures to be a lucrative sports betting market.
Still, BetRivers, which was expected to use the tethered online license of Suffolk Downs, didn’t apply. And it doesn’t plan to apply at any time in the near future.
A Rush Street Interactive spokesperson told Play MA the company “will not be commenting regarding the Massachusetts market at this time.”
4. Are credit cards allowed at Massachusetts sportsbooks?
Don’t try using a credit card to make deposits at Massachusetts online sportsbooks. They won’t work.
Massachusetts is one of a handful of states, including Iowa, Tennessee, and Connecticut, that doesn’t allow credit cards to be used for sports betting. It’s meant as a way to help curb gambling addiction — preventing gamblers from racking up credit card debt.
Our favorite methods for deposit and withdrawal are online banking and debit card. They’re fast and simple, and they’re super easy to connect to your sports betting account. For especially fast withdrawals, go with a debit card.
Can I use a credit card to fund my PayPal?
Can you technically find a loophole and use a credit card to fund your e-wallet, such as PayPal, which will be accepted for deposits?
Going through the process, PayPal will reject any credit card that is attempted through the deposit method. Some sportsbooks, such as FanDuel, don’t even allow card transactions via PayPal. They will only accept deposits from what was already in your PayPal account, or money hooked up to your online banking account.
5. What are the restrictions on betting on college sports?
There are several restrictions to keep in mind if you want to bet on college sports in Massachusetts.
First of all: You cannot place bets on any in-state college team unless they are playing in a tournament with at least four teams. This can include in-season basketball tournaments, such as the popular Maui Jim Maui Invitational, and all postseason tournaments, including March Madness.
You also cannot place any futures bets on in-state college teams before they have clinched a spot in their respective NCAA Tournament. In other words, you’d have to wait to hear Boston College’s name called on Selection Sunday before placing your March Madness futures wager.
You also cannot place any futures bets on individual college awards for any athlete (not just ones in Massachusetts), and you can’t place bets on in-state teams that revolve around end-of-season results. An example of that would be betting on Boston College to win the ACC. You could, however, bet on Duke — which is in North Carolina — to do that.
Finally, there are no restrictions on college betting just because the event is in Massachusetts. It’s all about whether in-state colleges are involved. For the Fenway Bowl, for instance — as long as the two football teams aren’t Massachusetts teams, there will be no limits whatsoever to how you can bet on it.
6. How much sports betting revenue is expected?
In terms of tax revenue, the most common number thrown out there is somewhere around $60 million.
That would mean, between online and retail sportsbooks, sports betting revenue would be in the $300-400 million range.
Where will the tax revenue go?
There is a 20% tax on Massachusetts online sportsbook revenue and 15% on retail revenue.
All that tax money will go into one pot. And here’s how that pot will be divvied up:
- 45% to the General Fund
- 27.5% to the Gaming Local Aid Fund
- 17.5% to the Workforce Investment Trust Fund
- 9% to the Public Health Trust Fund
- 1% to the Youth Development and Achievement Fund
With tax revenue estimated at around $60 million, that would be $27 million to the General Fund, $16.5 million to the Gaming Local Aid Fund, $10.5 million to the Workforce Investment Trust Fund, $5.4 million to the Public Health Trust Fund, and $600,000 to the Youth Development and Achievement Fund.
The $27 million would barely be a drop in the bucket for the state’s General Fund, which ran at $59.6 billion in 2022. And the $16.5 million would be about 15.6% of the Gaming Local Aid Fund in 2022.
But the $5.4 million is 31.4% of the Public Health Trust Fund from 2022, so that’s a substantial contribution. And the Workforce Investment Trust Fund and Youth Development and Achievement Fund are both new.
7. Will online sportsbooks launch in time for March Madness?
As long as nothing goes awry, yes, Massachusetts online sportsbooks will launch in time for March Madness.
They’re set to go live at 10 a.m. ET on Friday, March 10. The following Sunday is Selection Sunday. Then, the men’s NCAA Tournament begins March 14 and the women’s NCAA Tournament begins March 15.
Behind the Super Bowl, March Madness is the most bet-on US sporting event every year.
Is there any chance they won’t launch March 10?
Is there a chance? Sure.
Is it a very small chance? Yes.
State regulators are going to do everything in their power to get online sports betting up and running before March Madness. There’s simply way too much money on the table — let alone excitement from MA residents — to fumble this launch date.
However, there is only so much the MGC can do.
Ultimately, it’s up to the operators to make sure they get everything required of them done in a timely manner.
So, what exactly needs to happen? Right now, it’s all about sportsbooks’ internal control submissions. A report on a platform’s internal control would involve information on how it can ensure the integrity of its betting system.
The MGC is expected to finalize the untethered licenses at its Feb. 23 meeting. Also at that meeting, commissioners are expected to discuss marketing affiliates and sports betting vendors policies. At its Feb. 28 meeting, the MGC plans to get public feedback on its proposed policies regarding things such as uniform standards of sports wagering and temporary prohibition.
If things go according to plan with internal control submissions and the remaining agenda items at the MGC meetings, there’s no reason to think MA online sports betting won’t launch March 10.
8. Will some sportsbook apps launch before others?
MGC Executive Director Karen Wells has kept the door open for what’s called a staggered launch. In a staggered launch, certain apps may launch their sportsbook platforms before others. In a universal launch, all apps go live at the same time.
Wells said a staggered launch could be possible if some operators’ internal control submissions lag too far behind others.
“They are all getting the same approach to their review,” Wells said during a recent MGC meeting.
It already appears some apps will launch before others. Both Fanatics Sportsbook and Bally Bet won’t launch until May. Betway intends to launch in 2024.
One would think launching later than another sportsbook would be disastrous. But recent examples from Indiana show a staggered launch isn’t as big of a deal as you may think.
DraftKings launched two-and-a-half weeks before FanDuel did in Indiana in October 2019. And, yes, DraftKings did own more of the Indiana market than FanDuel for 30 months. However, FanDuel zoomed by DraftKings after those 30 months. In 2022, FanDuel held a 38% market share in Indiana, compared to DraftKings’ 29%.
9. Will there be special sign-up offers for Massachusetts sportsbook apps?
Operators will roll out the proverbial red carpet when it comes to Massachusetts sportsbook bonuses. Some may use the same welcome promos they offer in other states. Some (we’re looking at you, Boston-based DraftKings) may add an extra perk for MA.
Apps have already begun offering pre-launch promos.
FanDuel, for instance, is giving any Massachusetts resident who signs up between now and launch day (10 a.m., March 10) $100 in bonus bets. Just sign up, and you’ll have $100 in bonus bets in your account on March 10.
10. Will any Massachusetts teams partner with sportsbooks?
Almost certainly. It’s common practice in states where sports betting is legal.
The Boston Red Sox are already partnered with DraftKings (for DFS) and MGM Resorts. We’ll see how those relationships unfold after March 10. It would seem DraftKings is the more likely partner, though. In their 2021 release announcing the DFS partnership, both the Red Sox and DraftKings hinted their relationship would progress further in the years ahead.
In fact, DraftKings has DFS partnerships with all four major pro franchises in Massachusetts — the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots. New England also has a deal with Aristocrat Gaming, a slot machine and casino game manufacturer. But that shouldn’t factor into this discussion.
Will DraftKings be the only sports betting partner for all four teams? We’ll see. You’d have to figure other major players — FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, PointsBet — may try to strike a deal, too.
For instance: The MLS is partnered with BetMGM Sportsbook. In theory, that puts BetMGM in a good position to secure a sports betting partnership with the New England Revolution.
Will MA sports venues ever have sportsbooks?
Perhaps one day, but not in the immediate future.
Massachusetts sports betting law currently only allows for retail licenses at the state’s three casinos and its two horse racing simulcast facilities.
11. Can I bet on esports in Massachusetts?
No. At least, not yet.
Regulators did not shut the door completely on esports betting, a market growing in popularity that’s now offered on most major US sportsbooks. However, they wanted more time to further research and discuss esports, as well as:
- Jai alai
12. Can I bet on things other than sports?
If you’re able to find odds on them at legal sportsbooks, Massachusetts residents can place bets on awards shows such as the Academy Awards or the Golden Globes. You can also beat on professional league drafts and competitive eating events.
13. How are Massachusetts sportsbooks handling responsible gaming?
At a baseline, all Massachusetts sports betting apps are required to offer self-exclusion.
Self-exclusion gives gamblers the option to lock themselves out of the app for long periods of time, often 90 days or longer. Once someone chooses to self-exclude, they cannot access the sportsbook until the chosen amount of time has passed. Bettors can opt for self-exclusion at a retail sportsbook, too. They won’t be allowed at the property until the amount of time has passed.
Massachusetts regulators are also considering adding a “cooling off” option for responsible gaming. A cooling off period works the same way as self-exclusion, but it’s for a shorter amount of time. As little as 72 hours or a week, for example. The MGC has not made a final decision yet regarding cooling off periods.
In addition, 9% of MA sports betting tax revenue goes to the Public Health Trust Fund. That’s where the Office of Problem Gambling Services and the MGC get a lot of their funding for problem gambling services.
14. Where is the closest Massachusetts sportsbook to me?
It depends on where you live.
For Boston, Encore Boston Harbor is by far the closest because, well, it basically is in Boston. Technically it’s in Everett, but that’s just 6 miles north of downtown Boston.
For residents of Worcester, the second-biggest city in Massachusetts, you’re about the same distance from Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield in Springfield. But, depending on the time of day, it’ll probably be a shorter drive to MGM Springfield because you won’t have to mess with Boston traffic.
For those who live in Southeastern Mass, Plainridge Park Casino is the closest option. Located in Plainville, PPC is about 19 miles west of Brocktown, the sixth-most-populous city in the state.
And if you’re in Western Mass, MGM Springfield is easily the closest option. However, if you live in certain cities, you may be even closer to casino sportsbooks in New York or Connecticut.
15. Is sports betting the same as DFS?
No, it isn’t.
Daily fantasy sports involves assembling daily or weekly rosters and entering into DFS contests. You can play DFS for fun, but you can also enter contests with monetary prizes, or you can play your friends head-to-head with money on the line.
DFS has always been allowed in Massachusetts, and DraftKings and FanDuel both offer Massachusetts DFS apps. That may be a source of some of the confusion regarding DFS vs. sports betting.
But sports betting involves making picks based on certain outcomes related to a game or season. Examples include betting on the Celtics to beat the Knicks, the Patriots to beat the Giants by more than a touchdown, and the Red Sox and Yankees to combine for more than eight runs in their game.
Sports betting is defined as gambling because it’s a game of chance. You have zero control over whether you “win” or not.
DFS operators, meanwhile, call DFS a skill-based game because players use their knowledge to draft the best possible rosters. They compare DFS games to chess, spelling bees, or even testing your luck with the stock market. That’s a major reason why DFS has been allowed in many states across the country for years, whereas sports betting is only recently becoming legal.
|Betting on certain outcomes happening during a game over the course of a season.||Selecting daily or weekly rosters of real-life athletes and competing against others.|
|Game of chance.||Game of skill.|
|Always real-money wagering.||Can enter free or paid contests.|
|Wasn’t allowed in MA until Jan. 31, 2023.||Was always allowed in Massachusetts.|
16. Don’t online sportsbooks already exist in Massachusetts?
No, they are not.
Any sports betting sites that advertise themselves in Massachusetts are unregulated offshore sites. While these sportsbooks technically reside in the gray area between legal and illegal, the fact that they’re unregulated should be a red flag.
Offshore sportsbooks lack the high-quality digital security you’d find with a regulated sportsbooks. And, without any regulatory body overseeing them, these offshore sites have a track record of mistreating their customers with no legal recourse.
With legal regulated online sportsbooks coming to Massachusetts, we’ll likely see use of offshore sites drop dramatically in the state.
17. Can I bet on sports in Massachusetts waters?
Yes you can.
For the purposes of sports betting, the Massachusetts state boundary extends 3 miles off the state shore into the Atlantic Ocean. That means 3 miles off the shore of any part of Massachusetts, including Nantucket, Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard.
MA only. 21+. Gambling Problem? Call or text 1-800-GAMBLE.