Guide to Massachusetts Gambling & Online Casinos
A lot of people in Massachusetts enjoy playing roulette, blackjack, slots, and loads of other games that are featured at Massachusetts gambling sites. While this is all perfectly legal, there are a few things that you need to understand before you start playing. This guide to Massachusetts online casinos will fill you in on what you can and can’t do. We will go over the history of gambling in Massachusetts and bring you up to date with the current rules and regulations. As such, you can be sure that your online casino gaming adventure is as fun, safe, and rewarding as it can be.
Gambling In Massachusetts
Massachusetts’ gambling landscape has shifted many times throughout the state’s existence. Various forms of gambling have been legalized, banned, and then legalized again. For instance, the lottery was outlawed in 1719, only to be reintroduced in 1745. It was once again banned in 1833, only to be legalized in 1971 when the Massachusetts Lottery was launched. Since then, the Massachusetts Lottery has produced over $143 billion in revenues.
Horse racing and dog racing were legalized in 1934. While horse racing has been legal and rather popular ever since, Massachusetts’ Greyhound Protection Act spelled the end of dog racing in 2010, resulting in the closures of the state’s only two dog racing venues.
In terms of the modern gambling climate, we can go back to 2011 and Governor Deval Patrick’s introduction of the Expanded Gambling Act. This piece of legislation created the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The MGC is made up of five full-time commissioners who are responsible for things like:
Issuing gambling licenses and enforcing regulations.
Creating and maintaining a fair, transparent, and participatory process for implementing expanded gaming laws.
Implementing responsible gaming programs.
Investigating suspected violations.
The creation of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission resulted in the opening of the state’s first three resort casinos, which opened their doors between 2015 and 2019. They are:
Encore Boston Harbor
Plainridge Park Casino
As far as online gambling is concerned, Massachusetts introduced temporary legislation in 2016 allowing daily fantasy sports. DFS was permanently legalized two years later. Then, on August 10, 2022, Governor Charlie Baker signed Bill 5164, which legalized online sports betting. The bill called for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to issue up to 15 licenses to sports betting operators. The first mobile sports betting apps sprang into action in March 2023. One of the most significant restrictions faced by the state’s sports betting community is that they cannot wager on collegiate sports. Nor can they wager on events like eSports, chess, and Olympic events that are determined by judges.
So, what about MA online casinos? Well, they aren’t yet legal. If you want to play casino games legally in Massachusetts, those who are at least 21 years of age can visit any of the three retail casinos that are currently operating in the state or play at a social casino.
Perhaps the biggest question now revolves around the future of online casinos in Massachusetts. The good news is that the future looks bright. While it wouldn’t be accurate to say that the legalization of Massachusetts online casinos is imminent, there is a lot of support for it. Furthermore, the states that have introduced legalized online casino gambling have typically used the legalization of sports betting as a stepping stone.
Massachusetts roulette aficionados have plenty of legal options for playing their favorite game. If you insist on playing live at a table, then MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor are where you want to be. Plainridge Park also offers roulette, but it only has electronic versions of the game. This is because Plainridge is a Class II casino which means that it can only offer electronic gaming machines.
If you prefer to play online, then you can choose from multiple roulette variants at our favorite social online casinos in Massachusetts. This is legal because social casinos don’t offer real-money games. As such, playing at social casinos isn’t considered as gambling. Another thing that some social online casinos in Massachusetts offer is live dealer roulette games that you can play on the go. Again, these are free games which makes them perfectly legal.
Like roulette, blackjack is a Class III casino game which means you can play it at MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor. With Plainridge Park being a Class II venue, it can only offer electronic variants. Table game fans who visit Plainridge Park should be sure to check out the Quartz Hybrid touchscreen terminals at which you can play up to eight games simultaneously.
Social Massachusetts online casinos are the most convenient legal options for those who want to play online blackjack. One of the advantages of playing at these sites is that you will find loads of intriguing blackjack variants. This will get players prepped for when, hopefully, online casinos finally arrive in Massachusetts. As it stands, there are no legal options for playing real money online blackjack except for offshore sites which are not regulated in Massachusetts.
Poker fans in the Bay State have a few great legal options. For starters, they can play live games in the poker rooms at MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbour. Both of these licensed establishments are state-of-the-art facilities that offer popular poker variants for a wide range of stakes. You can play ring games or enter into various tournaments. It’s all legal! Unfortunately, playing online poker for real money remains prohibited. Those who want to play online can still get all the legal poker action they desire at social sites or by downloading social poker apps. These platforms are legal because they don’t require any money.
This is a good spot to tell you that Massachusetts has plenty of casino poker options too. Because these games involve playing against a dealer, they are considered Class III games. This means that you can only legally play real-money live casino poker games like Let It Ride and Caribbean Stud at Encore Boston Harbor or MGM Springfield. Plainridge Park offers electronic casino poker gaming machines. Most social Massachusetts online casinos also offer an array of casino poker games.
Slots were legalized in 2011, although they weren’t offered until the state’s first legal casino, Plainridge Park Casino, opened about 4 years later. These days, legal slot machines abound in the state of Massachusetts. All three land-based casinos have lots of them. Plainridge Park Casino has over 1,200, Encore Boston Harbor has 1,500, and Encore Boston Harbor has around 2,700. You can be sure that any new retail casinos that come to the Bay State will have a lot of slots too. In 2022, slot machines at these three casinos offered an average return of 90.5%.
Seeing how real-money online casinos are still illegal in Massachusetts, slot fans can’t legally play online slots for real money. However, they can get all the free slot action they crave at social Massachusetts online casinos . These slot games are the same as you would find at any top-tier licensed online casino. They have been certified and audited by accredited software testers and you can trust them to be fair. The only difference is that they don’t require money.
Land Based Casinos
We can’t discuss the best online casinos in Massachusetts simply because there aren’t any yet. However, we can tell you about the three best retail casinos. As mentioned, one of the first things that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission did when it was established in 2011 was issue three casino licenses.
The first venue to open was Plainridge Park Casino which is located at 301 Washington Street in Plainville. This is technically a “racino” which is a bit different from a traditional casino in that it is essentially a horse racing track that offers over 1,250 slot machines. It operates under a Class II license which means it cannot offer table games, although it has a sportsbook, a racebook, and several restaurants and bars.
The first full-blown Class III Vegas-style casino resort to open in Massachusetts was MGM Springfield in August 2018. Owned by MGM Resorts International, this facility boasts over 1,500 slot machines, 180 table games, a poker room, and a BetMGM Sportsbook located on a massive 125,000-square-foot gaming floor. It also has a 240-room hotel with all modern amenities like HD TV, high-speed internet, and more. Visitors have access to other amenities like a pool, spa, and an abundance of dining and nightlife options, including dancing and live entertainment.
On June 23, 2019, the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor opened its doors, making it the third land-based casino option for those in Massachusetts. This modern casino resort is operated by Wynn Resorts and it offers over 2,700 slots, 185+ table games, and a sportsbook on a 200,000-square-foot gaming floor. It also has a 24-hour poker room that is known for hosting regular tournaments. You’ll find a 27-floor hotel with over 650 rooms as well as a luxury spa, fitness center, salon, and retail shopping outlets. Of course, Encore Boston Harbor also offers plenty of dining options, bars, and lounges.
Massachusetts online casinos might not be legal yet, but those who like to indulge in casino games still have some great options. The Bay State is home to three retail gambling facilities with modern amenities and all the casino gaming you can handle. Those who just want to play for fun have access to many social MA online casinos that offer a full range of games, including slots, roulette, blackjack, and much more.