Online Poker Massachusetts: Gambling Laws

2021 Update: Can I Play Online Poker in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts is likely to legalize online poker. Part of the reason is revenue. For example, the state generated $1.035 billion in profit from the lottery in 2017. Last January, State Senator Bruce Tarr introduced bill SD. 618 to legalize online gaming in Massachusetts. Only licensed casinos could offer internet gambling under the bill. The U.S. Department of Interior approved a casino for the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian tribe. The casino is estimated to be built in 2022 in southeastern Massachusetts at a cost of $1 billion.

MassachusettsPoker

Boston, Massachusetts (Photo by Lance Anderson on Unsplash)

Online Poker and Gambling Laws in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is pretty strict when it comes to their gambling laws. In the same vein, the penalties are pretty strict too. However, the local government is open to benefits that can come from online gaming. Additionally, they are aware of outdated laws.

Firstly, let’s first look at the current laws:

 

Gambling Laws in Massachusetts

Type/Code Summary
State Code Section(s) II.10.37-40; II.23K; XX.137; IV.271
Definitions Gambling laws vary widely across the United States. Most laws have a few key components that define how strict or not they are. These key components are usually specific keywords and their definitions. Here we define the four keywords in Massachusetts’s gambling laws.

Gambling: The playing of a game by a patron of a gaming establishment.

Game: A banking or percentage game played with cards, dice, tiles, dominoes or an electronic, electrical or mechanical device or machine played for money, property, checks, credit or any other representative of value that has been approved by the commission.

Gaming: Dealing, operating, carrying on, conducting, maintaining or exposing any game for pay.

Gaming device: An electronic, electrical or mechanical contrivance or machine used in connection with gaming or a game.

Chapter 4, Section 7 “Tenth, “Gaming”, “illegal gaming” or “unlawful gaming” shall include every act punishable under any law relative to lotteries, policy lotteries or policy, the buying and selling of pools or registering of bets.”
Chapter 271, Section 1 “Whoever, on a prosecution commenced within eighteen months after the commission of the crime, is convicted of winning at one time or sitting, by gaming or betting on the sides or hands of those gaming, money or goods to the value of five dollars or more, and of receiving the same or security therefor, shall forfeit double the value of such money or goods.”
Section 2 of Chapter 271 “Whoever, in a public conveyance or public place, or in a private place upon which he is trespassing, plays at cards, dice or any other game for money or other property, or bets on the sides or hands of those playing, shall forfeit not more than fifty dollars or be imprisoned for not more than three months; and whoever sets up or permits such a game shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty nor more than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not less than three nor more than twelve months.”

 

Will Massachusetts Regulate and Tax Online Poker?

Massachusetts wants to regulate online poker and reap the tax benefits. For instance, ever since February 2013, the Massachusetts legislature has continued to look at two types of bills that would open up online gambling in the state. The first bill focused on the sales of lottery tickets over the internet. The second bill includes online poker. In both bills, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission would oversee licensing.

Additionally, the bill also mentions licensing costs. For example, licenses cost $10 million upfront with additional monthly fees under the bill. However, these fees aren’t determined yet. Additionally, the state would only allow three online websites. The licenses are valid for ten years.

Massachusetts has an estimated debt of $129.6 billion. Therefore, online poker and gaming would give the state much-needed tax revenue.

Is Online Gambling Legal in Massachusetts?

There are plenty of gambling options available throughout the state in the form of both tribal and state casinos, but can you play online? Yes, you can. While there are currently no brick-and-mortar casinos that have online gaming sites, there are plenty of online gaming providers based outside the state that cater to Massachusetts players. One element that could make some form of online gambling legal in Massachusetts is sports betting.

The state government is currently debating sports betting which could have an online element. There’s a good chance this could pass. Massachusetts added two new, massive casinos starting in 2018. The state has seen the benefits of expanding gaming and that could lead to more online gambling legislation.

Can I Play Pokerstars in Massachusetts?

Currently, Pokerstars cannot be played in Massachusetts, however, the following are trusted poker rooms where players can play:

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Current Forms of Legal Gambling in Massachusetts

The state allows five main categories of legal gambling:

  • State Lottery
  • Pari-mutuel Wagering
  • Indian Casinos
  • Commercial Casinos
  • Charitable Gaming

State Lottery

In 1971, the legislation created the Massachusetts state lottery. After that, the first lottery in 1972 had seven people and a prize of $50,000. In 1973, the State Lottery Commission took over bingo. Subsequently, lottery regulation switched to the Charitable Gaming Division. Visit their website to learn more about the Massachusetts Lottery. It’s a big revenue generator for the state.

Pari-Mutuel Wagering

The Division of Racing regulates the state’s horse racing industry. It also implements the statutes, rules, regulations and horse racing conditions. In addition, the racing industry contributes significantly to the Commonwealth’s economy. Maryland is a big horse state. Or course Marylanders love to bet on them. The more the merrier.

Indian and Commercial Casinos

In November 2011, Massachusetts passed a Gaming Act to introduce casino gambling into the state. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) will oversee the issuance of three licenses to casinos and one slots parlor. MGM got the first license on June 13, 2014 and Wynn received the second on September 16, 2014. Penn National Gaming got the slots-only parlor gaming license. Find all the latest casino information at www.boston.com casinos page.

Others

  • Charitable Gaming
  • Beano/Bingo
  • Raffles
  • Charitable Gaming Tickets
  • Bazaars

Is Sports Betting Coming to Massachusetts?

It would look like the answer is yes.

Massachusetts is in a sports betting hot zone. The entire Northeast is riddled with sports teams and die-hard fans. Now Massachusetts could become the largest sports betting market in New England. This could help pave the way for online poker. According to The Boston Globe, state lawmakers advanced a bill that would allow sports betting. This comes two years after the bill was being debated.

Because of this, lawmakers are hoping sports betting will reach Massachusetts by the 2021 NFL season. There are still some roadblocks on the way to legalized online poker.

For example, some senators have concerns about expanding legalized gambling in the state. However, the rollout of sports betting could be a big boom for the state and help change their minds. After that, the state legislature could be more open to online poker. It would probably follow the blueprint set out by sports betting.

For example, the proposed sports betting law gives the local casinos the right to host the expanded gaming measures. After that, the big question would be if Massachusetts would join the shared player pool. The state has a huge population and could really kick off the online poker market.

Famous MA Poker Players

There are tons of great poker players hailing from the state of Massachusetts. In fact, one of poker’s all-time greats, the 1995 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion and author of one of the most fundamental books on poker, Dan Harrington, hails from Massachusetts. One of the highest-earning tournament players of all time and the first $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop Champion Daniel Coleman.

The top 15 highest earning players from Massachustts are:

1st: Daniel Colman – $28,925,059
2nd: Nick Petrangelo – $17,625,962
3rd: Anthony Zinno – $10,263,246
4th: Jesse James Sylvia – $7,475,555
5th: Dan Harrington – $6,639,002
6th: Brian Altman – $4,535,592
7th: Jonathan Jaffe – $4,018,930
8th: Curt Kohlberg – $3,310,333
9th: Jesse Martin – $3,254,974
10th: David Paredes – $2,541,081
11th: Matthew Wantman – $2,506,477
12th: Bernard Lee – $2,395,088
13th: Timothy Patrick Reilly – $2,290,824
14th: Taylor von Kriegenbergh – $2,233,513
15th: William Pappaconstantinou – $2,209,826

State-by-State Laws

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