Legal online sports betting has officially arrived in the Commonwealth. The window officially opens at 10 AM on March 10th, just in time for the culmination of Championship Week in college basketball. Selection Sunday is on March 12th and March Madness kicks off with the First Four on March 14th.
Ten online sportsbooks have received full licensing from the Massachusetts Gaming Commision but just six will open their windows on the 10th; Barstool, BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, and WynnBET. A seventh, betr, delayed their launch at the last moment and now anticipates starting in April. Two others, Fanatics and Bally Bet, are set to open in May while Betway plans on starting in early 2024.
With Massachusetts Sports Betting Promos, new customers can receive significant welcome bonuses. The sportsbooks give bet credits worth up to $1000 to mitigate losses on a first wager, as well as sign-up bonuses of up to $200.
Sports betting kicked off in the Bay State in late January at three retail sports books; Encore Boston Harbor Casino, Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield Casino. It has gotten off to a relatively smooth start, though all three have run afoul of a Bay State law that prohibits taking bets on in-state college sports teams when they are not playing in tournaments.
For the Individual
Anyone in the Bay State aged 21 or older can sign up and wager online as long as they remain within the borders of the state. Geolocation does an excellent job of determining that. Mobile apps will still work out of state, provided the bettor is in a state that has legalized online wagering and the vendor operates in that state. Someone signing up for DraftKings in Massachusetts can venture over the New York border and still place bets in New York e.g., but will be subject to Empire State rules at that time.
Six online choices to start, with others joining in soon after, provides a host of options for bettors. The competition means Bay State residents can expect promos like odds boosts and bet credits to remain and competitive betting markets at all times. The books typically do not compete on spread width as they all default to standard -110 pricing on even odds bets like NFL or NBA point spreads. Bettors will need to risk $110 to win $100 the majority of the time. The sportsbooks do not always exactly align however. Maybe WynnBet has the Celtics -2.5 over the Sixers at -110 on both sides, while BetMGM has the same -2.5 spread but has the Celtics at -105 and the Sixers at -115. Six sportsbooks now going up to ten by early next year provided more than enough options to find the best prices.
More sportsbooks also means that a bettor interested in less popular sports or props is much more likely to find deep markets somewhere. Different books specialize in different ways. Some will just post basic UFC odds for example, money lines on winners e.g. Others may have a board full of props to play with on even the lower profile bouts. Shop around when possible.
Bay State residents looking to wager on their favorite teams will have no problems finding countless markets in all things Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox and Patriots.
Winnings are potentially taxed as “other income” at rates identical to ordinary income as laid out here.
For the State
Massachusetts has divided the licenses into three categories:
Casinos get Category 1 licenses. There are the three listed above with the potential for a fourth to open at some juncture in the western part of the state. The casinos can partner with two online sportsbooks, which in turn must get a Category 3 license. Encore has partnered with WynnBet and Caesars, Plainridge with Barstool and Fanatics and MGM Springfield (obviously) with BetMGM.
Category 2 is for racetracks and off-track betting (OTB) facilities. They can each partner Category 3 approved mobile sportsbooks. Raynham Park and Suffolk Downs both qualify, but neither has opened yet nor do they have a specific date set. Raynham Park had affiliated with Bet365, but then the sportsbook decided to pull out of Massachusetts, while Suffolk Downs does not have a partner as of yet.
The online books must get Category 3 licenses. Massachusetts allows for seven untethered licenses, in addition to any books with affiliate relationships. Bally’s, betr, Betway, DraftKings, and FanDuel have gotten untethered licenses thus far. PointsBet had one then declined to operate in the state, so two licenses remain up for grabs in addition to any books that ultimately affiliate with a physical location.
Massachusetts will tax the online books at 20% and the retail books at 15%. It is a higher rate than New Jersey’s 13% and Ohio’s 10% but much lower than the 51% New York taxes. State officials project a total amount wagered (the handle) of between $4 billion and a shade more than $6 billion in the first full year of legalized wagering. With a typical hold percentage of around 8%, that translates to sportsbook revenues ranging from $300 million to $500 million and tax revenue to the state of $55 million to $95 million.
The books however are fighting to deduct promotional expenses from the revenues, which would effectively lop $100 million off there and $20 million of the state’s tax revenue. Nothing is determined yet on that front.