Gambling in Massachusetts


Gambling in Massachusetts was a sedate and quiet pastime in the historic state for more than 330 years with just a little horse racing betting and a state lottery to help keep the state’s residents amused. All of a sudden, a few short years ago in 2011, the entire gambling landscape changed as casinos in Massachusetts were legalized as an incentive for the state’s residents to keep their hard-earned cash in the state’s revenue coffers, rather than being deposited in long established legal casinos in neighboring Connecticut or Rhode Island.

The pace of change continues unabated and next on the landscape of change in Massachusetts gaming laws is the implementation of legal sports betting in early 2023, along with the introduction of Tribal Casinos.

Massachusetts Casino Gambling

As a counter point to its rich and diverse history in founding and establishing the United States of America, the Bay State of Massachusetts is a relative newcomer to casino culture. Everything changed in 2011, with the passage of the Expanded Gaming Act  legislating for land-based casinos. Land-based casinos now offer MA residents more than 10 250 slot machines and in excess of 430 table games.

In addition, one tribal casino is also slated to be opened in Massachusetts in the near future.

Online Casinos in Massachusetts

Currently stuck in a legal bind, Massachusetts Online Casinos appear to be the political football of gambling in the state. Most recently, the chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has called for the immediate regulation and legalization of online casinos. He argues that if the State does not do this, then the casinos will and much-needed state revenue will be lost. Watch this space as the story unfolds.

Poker in Massachusetts

Some limited Poker tournaments are offered in charity gambling venues, whilst playing poker for real money is possible at a few poker rooms and the state’s licensed land-based casinos.

Social ‘home’ games are subject to very interesting and liberal laws in Massachusetts. The state law is clear that a Social Poker player who loses any money or thing of value may reclaim that loss, by law, within three months, however, the actual legality of playing home poker games is not referenced directly under Massachusetts General Law.

Poker Rooms

Massachusetts has four Poker Rooms (65 tables available), and additionally, Poker is also played 100% legally in the state’s casinos. On the other hand, unlicensed Poker and other forms of unlicensed games are frowned upon by Massachusetts lawmakers.

Online Poker Laws

For the time being at least, please presume until further notice that online poker is still illegal in Massachusetts (see ’Online Casinos in Massachusetts’ section for a full explanation).

History of Online & Land-Based Gambling in Massachusetts

New legislation on sport betting legalization appears to be coming soon to Massachusetts.

See our timeline tracking the history of gambling in the Bay State, and in particular, all the big changes since 2011;

1934 – Betting on Horse Racing in Massachusetts was first made legal. Simulcast Betting from other tracks and states was added at later from approved centers.

1972 – Massachusetts first State Lottery was sold. The states lottery allows for lottery type game to be played on video terminals where tickets are purchased, and the state also allows multi-state jackpot lotteries like Powerball.

Currently, there is some debate as to the legalization of online lotteries.

2011– Casino Bill passes allowing for 1 slots parlor and 3 land-based casinos

2013 – First Casino Licenses are handed out.

2014 – Mashpee Wampanoag is granted a Tribal Casino license and the casino is expected to open in 2019.

2015 – Massachusetts’ first land-based casino opened its doors.

2016 – DFS first legalized with full permanent legalization of  DFS finalized by the State Legislature in 2018.

2023 – Sports betting legalized in Massachusetts

Visit our Massachusetts Online Sports Betting Page for information on the states legal online sportsbooks