Is Poker legal in Massachusetts (ma)? Online Poker Laws in Massachusetts Explained


Massachusetts Massachusetts

  • Live Poker is allowed
  • Online Poker is forbidden
  • Online Casino is forbidden
  • Sports Betting is forbidden

Can You Play Online Poker in Massachusetts?

It’s fair to say that the gambling market in Massachusetts is fairly new. While horse and dog racing betting has been around for more than eight decades, that’s not the case for casinos. The first casinos were legalized just back in 2011, along with one slot parlor. However, commercial casinos in Massachusetts have been in operation for just over two years. Under these circumstances, it’s no surprise that MA online poker has yet to be legalized and that you can't play online poker in Massachusetts right now.

While such a scenario might look a bit disheartening at first, Massachusetts actually has some positive prospects. Online gaming originally proposed during the initial discussions for the 2011 gambling expansion. And while it did not come to fruition, the topic is still ongoing. Talks have been significantly delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. For now, online poker in Massachusetts is still a bit of a distant dream. On the other hand, there is no way of telling what the future holds. It’s fair to say that MA actually has better chances to legalize online gambling compared to plenty of other states.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that you cannot play poker in Massachusetts. Both Bay State casinos offer live poker rooms. And with two Indian casinos already planned for the future, MA poker could thrive soon. Find everything you need to know about Massachusetts online poker in this guide brought to you by PokerNews.

History of Poker and Online Poker in Massachusetts

In order to take a look at poker in Massachusetts, we must first recap gambling in the state. Pari Mutuel gambling has been legal in MA since the 1930s. Charitable gambling has also been around for a long time. The state lottery was created in 1971, with its first draws happening in 1972. While Massachusetts has a long history of gambling, commercial casinos are very new. In fact, the commercial gambling market is still in its early days, which is quite surprising.

Gambling in Massachusetts was finally signed into law in 2011. However, the first commercial casino only opened to business seven years later. The Expanded Gaming Act, passed on November 22, 2011, allowed MA to have three resort casinos and one slot parlor. Plainridge Park Casino, the first slot parlor, opened to business in 2015.MGM Springfield, the first commercial casino in the Bay State, opened to business in 2018. A year later, Encore Boston Harbor joined the list. Massachusetts still has one commercial casino license remaining for the Southeast part. Currently, legal issues have held back Indian casinos in MA. That is set to change, however. Both the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head already have plans to build one casino each.

All gambling-related activities in MA are regulated by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which was established in 2011. And according to the MGC, live poker is legal to play in the Bay State. The two commercial casinos offer the largest poker rooms in the state. But that’s not the only option available to play poker in MA. The Bay State is well-known for its charity poker rooms.

Summary of Massachusetts Gambling & Poker Laws

  • Online Poker/Gambling- All forms of online gambling, including online poker, are illegal in Massachusetts
  • Live Poker - Live poker is legal in the state and has been approved by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission
  • Casinos - Massachusetts currently has two resort casinos and one slot parlor, with two Indian casinos planned for construction
  • Sports Betting - Sports betting is illegal in Massachusetts
  • Fantasy Sports - Daily fantasy sports are legal in Massachusetts
  • Esports - Esports betting is illegal in Massachusetts
  • Other Gambling Options - Charitable gambling, state lottery, pair mutuel wagering on horse and dog racing

Online Poker in Massachusetts

Since commercial gambling is fairly new in Massachusetts, online gaming is still far from reality. This doesn’t mean that it has never been discussed. Quite the opposite, actually. Online gambling, including online poker, was initially proposed as part of the 2011 Expanded Gaming Act. As expected, the idea was quickly shot down. Since then, online gambling has found its way back into the political scene more often than not. The results have been the same as the initial attempt.

Massachusetts has the potential to create a thriving online poker market. Daily fantasy sports already enjoys plenty of popularity in the Bay State. In other words, there is definitely an opening for online gambling. Recent attempts to expand gambling in the state also included wording favorable to online gaming. However, all of them ultimately fell short.

There is plenty of reason to have hope for the future. While the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed most plans for online poker in MA, the Bay State remains among the top candidates to legalize it.

Is Online Poker Legal in Massachusetts?

The short answer is no, online poker is currently illegal in Massachusetts. There have been plenty of attempts to legalize online gambling in MA. However, they weren’t successful, and, as a result, online poker is still illegal. For now, live poker and charity poker are the only ways to play in the state. That being said, the future does look pretty bright for online poker in MA.

While there is no way of telling when it will happen, Massachusetts is a likely candidate to legalize online poker. The state has already laid the groundwork for online gambling. MA was the eighth state to legalize daily fantasy sports, which happened in 2016. This doesn’t necessarily mean that online poker will become legal in the near future. But out of all candidates, it’s fair to say that the Bay State is among the leading ones.

Since MA doesn’t allow real money online poker, social gaming apps remain the only legal alternative. Massachusetts legislation does not allow state residents to play online poker at offshore sites. And while you won’t necessarily get into legal trouble, we advise you steer clear from these sites. Offshore gambling sites aren’t particularly trustworthy, which means that the door is open for potential scammers.

<h2>Where Can I Play Online Poker In Massachusetts?</h2>
Since online poker isn’t legal in Massachusetts, there is no way to play online for real money yet. If you want to play online poker in MA, then social gaming apps remain the only viable option. If online poker eventually gets greenlit in the state, then many other options will become available. Massachusetts could offer a very solid market for online poker brands such as PokerStars and PartyPoker. For now, neither is available to play in Bay State.

Just like all the other states, Massachusetts will likely require online gambling licenses. With two commercial casinos, one slot parlor and two planned Indian casinos, there is no lack of options. Prospective online poker sites will have to partner one of these land-based operations in order to offer their services in MA.

Massachusetts legislation doesn’t allow state residents to play online poker at offshore sites. There is no precedent to say that you will get in trouble for it. Even so, you should still avoid doing this. Offshore sites operate under lax regulations and have questionable player protection at best. So, in other words, avoid this option. Sooner or later, online poker will become available for players in MA.

Where Does Massachusetts Offer Legal Online Gambling?

Massachusetts does not have legal online gambling yet. Despite some initial attempts, it has not passed yet. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission does not list any legal online gambling sites either. The most recent attempts to legalize online gambling in MA happened in 2019 and 2020.

Notably, the 2020 proposal came very close to finally being approved. The Economic Development Bill did list sports betting. But the topic led to some long deliberation, which ultimately led to it being dropped. Sports betting would likely bring online gambling with it. And while the proposal did garner some support, it fell short of its goal. Lawmakers argued that while the proposal deserved some consideration, it would take too much time to deliberate. Since there are more pressing matters to discuss because of the pandemic, the debate on gambling was eventually shelved.

Massachusetts is a great market for sports, being home of four highly successful franchises. And this could certainly help in expanding gambling in the state. Ultimately, this could benefit online poker as well.

Will Massachusetts Regulate Legal Online Poker?

While we can’t accurately predict how the future will go, it’s quite likely that Massachusetts will regulate online poker at some point. The economic potential of online gambling cannot be ignored by state lawmakers. Additionally, MA does have a solid record as one of the pioneers in daily fantasy sports. After all, it was the eighth state to legalize DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports).

Online gambling is a much more delicate topic, but this doesn’t mean that legalizing it is impossible. The Bay State has already overcome the most significant barrier by allowing commercial casinos to operate. With two Indiana casinos planned and a third resort casino license still available, finding partners to operate in the state won’t be an issue.

The COVID-19 pandemic will have a significant impact in delaying the debate. Legalizing online poker won’t have priority over other more pressing matters. As a result, it will probably remain in the legislative limbo for a while longer. But, out of all candidates to allow online poker in the future, MA is definitely among the leading ones. Make sure to check PokerNews regularly and keep up to date with all the latest news and updates on online poker in Massachusetts.

US Poker Laws 2023 – Massachusetts FAQ

  • Can you play online poker in Massachusetts?
    No, you can’t play online poker for real money in Massachusetts. The state legislation does not allow online gambling, and that naturally applies to online poker as well. If you want to play online poker in MA, then social gaming apps are the only viable option. We recommend that you avoid playing at offshore sites. While it won’t necessarily get you into legal trouble, it’s still best to avoid them. Offshore sites have questionable standards and offer little player protection.
  • Are home poker games legal in Massachusetts?
    Yes, home poker games are legal in Massachusetts. State legislation specifically forbids illegal commercial gambling operations. However, since home poker games do not fall under this category, they are perfectly legal. Of course, keep in mind that home poker games aren’t supposed to be a form of commercial gambling, even if they do involve real money. As long as home poker games are hosted for fun, then it’s perfectly fine. Promoting illegal gambling services, on the other hand, is a crime punishable with up to 15 years in prison.
  • Is online gambling legal in MA?
    No, online gambling isn’t legal in MA. Despite plenty of attempts to legalize it, internet gaming is still illegal. The first attempt to legalize online gambling in MA happened in 2011, with the Extended Gaming Act. Massachusetts was the eighth state to legalize daily fantasy sports. But online gambling itself has yet to be approved. With the delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the debate on legalizing online gambling will have to wait. MA remains among the top candidates to become the next in line to legalize online gambling.
  • Is poker legal in Massachusetts?
    Yes, poker is legal in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission approves poker, which means that it can be offered in commercial gambling establishments. The MSG lists many poker variations on its page, which means that they are all considered legal. You can play live poker for real money at the two commercial resort casinos in the state. MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor both offer poker rooms in MA.
  • Can you play PokerStars in Massachusetts?
    No, you cannot play PokerStars in Massachusetts. State legislation does not allow real money online gambling. Additionally, PokerStars is only available in the US outside of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. There are currently no plans for PokerStars MA. The site does not accept any real money wagering from players in Massachusetts.

Where is poker legal in the US? Which States can I play online poker in?