Is Horse Racing and Sports Betting Legal In Massachusetts?

In the words of Fall River, Massachusetts native Emeril Lagasse, gambling in the Bay State is about to be “kicked up a notch.” While gambling niches that include retail casinos, daily fantasy sports, and horse racing are all currently legal in Massachusetts, legal sports betting is not too far behind. 

On August 10, 2022, Governor Charlie Baker signed the Massachusetts sports betting bill into action. Although sports betting in Massachusetts is already legal as of that date, it is yet to officially launch. 

When Will Sports Betting Launch In Massachusetts?

The launch of legal sports betting in Massachusetts will come to fruition in two parts. First, in-person retail sports betting will go live on January 31st, 2023, barring the unforeseen. Not too long after, the expectation is that online sports betting will launch sometime in March of 2023. 

Three retail sportsbooks will go live at the three retail casinos currently active in the state including MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, and Plainridge Park Casino.

There is also expected to be a soft launch at these locations overseen by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on January 30 to ensure that everything is in working order for the official retail sports betting go-live date on the following day. 

When the time comes for mobile sports betting to launch, the three retail casinos mentioned above will have ties to online sports betting apps that include BetMGM MA (MGM Springfield), Barstool Sportsbook MA (Plainridge Park Casino), and WynnBET MA (Encore Boston Harbor). 

You should also expect seven standalone online sportsbooks to also go live in March 2023 as well including FanDuel Sportsbook MA, Caesars Sportsbook MA, BetRivers MA, and DraftKings Sportsbook MA. Once mobile sports betting goes live in the Bay State, you will be able to secure generous welcome offers when you sign up for a new account at legal Massachusetts sportsbooks

Horse Racing Betting In Massachusetts

In the state of Massachusetts, both horse racing betting and parimutuel betting are legal. Parimutuel betting is a form of wagering where bettors “backing the first three places divide the loser’s stakes.”

Massachusetts bettors can bet on both horse racing and parimutuel betting in three different ways including in person, simulcast, and online.

At this time, there is only one track that features live thoroughbred racing in Massachusetts, which is Plainridge Racecourse. The racetrack is connected to the Plainridge Park Casino. 

For off-track simulcast wagering, you can place bets at three locations including Parkridge Park, Suffolk Downs, and Raynham Park. Suffolk Downs is a former live horse racing track that is only used for OTB purposes in the present tense. 

You can also bet on horse racing online in Massachusetts. With a slew of popular online horse racing sites available for Massachusetts bettors, the three most popular ones are TwinSpires.com, TVG.com, and AMWager.com. 

Similar to sports betting, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission regulates horse race betting under its Division of Racing. 

When it comes to betting on horse racing in the Bay State, you must be 18 years old, which is different from the legal sports betting age in Massachusetts (21). 

Legal Sports Betting Ties With Horse Racing In Massachusetts

There are ties between legal sports betting and horse racing in Massachusetts stemming from the Category 2 Massachusetts sports betting license. The Category 2 sports betting licenses will allow horse racing tracks like Plainridge Park and off-track betting parlays to operate as retail in-person sportsbooks. Per the law, these correlated horse racing locations can also have one online sportsbook as well.

At this time, both Plainridge Park and Raynham Park will feature retail sports betting. Plainridge Park features live horse racing and is also a retail casino whereas Raynham Park is an OTB simulcast location. Suffolk Downs, another simulcast facility, could also have retail sports betting once it goes live. 

Once legal sports betting launches in Massachusetts, Bay State bettors will have a wide variety of gambling options both in person and online. On top of online and retail sports betting and horse racing, you can also wager at retail casinos, and play daily fantasy sports. You can also play the MA State Lottery. 

When it comes to online casinos and poker, those two forms of gambling that are not yet legal in Massachusetts. Massachusetts had attempted to legalize both of those gambling niches in the past but to no avail. 

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