Massachusetts’ approximately 6.65 million inhabitants are among the most prideful citizens of any state in the nation, but when it comes to real money poker and legal gambling MA citizens haven’t got the widest range of betting options.

Home to the Boston Red Sox, the world-renowned educational institution Harvard University and the gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts is an epicenter of culture, life and all things American, but definitely not a legit lawful poker or gambling establishment. Yet the one staple of modern American culture that is decidedly absent from The Bay State is the presence of a casino or real cash poker gambling room.

The betting and real money poker scene is about to change though. Over the course of the past two years, Massachusetts has loosened its stance on betting and gambling, so much so, that the prospect of online gambling and Internet poker coming to MA has become a real possibility. That’s great news for the real cash poker betting fans who’ve been stuck with very few legit gambling options up until now.

And although MA state gambling officials will likely finalize the state’s land-based casino and real money poker room plans before further entertaining the idea of regulated real cash Internet poker iGaming betting, Massachusetts stands a better chance than most of being one of the first ten states to open its doors to the virtual felt and provide real money poker websites for MA residents.

Those of you in The Bay State have it pretty easy going when it comes to gambling. Massachusetts punters will have no problem signing up for a real money US poker site account.

A Busy Two Years in Massachusetts Gambling History

Since 2011, a whirlwind of gambling and poker betting related bills and legislation have been brought before the Massachusetts government. And while most offline gambling and Internet poker bills failed to generate much fanfare, the passage of one betting bill will undoubtedly change Massachusetts’ real cash gambling landscape forever.

H. 3807 was penned into state law in late-November 2011[1]. It allows the construction of up to three land-based casino resorts with real money poker rooms and one slots parlor. Since then, 11 Indian tribes and major gambling companies submitted proposals to have their brands associated with one of Massachusetts new casinos and poker gambling card rooms.

Of those interested in running real money poker and casino operations in MA, Mohegan Sun and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe have proven to be the frontrunners [2]. The two tribes, both of whom operate large real cash betting casinos in Connecticut, have upped their annual commitment to the citizens of Massachusetts, leading to Mohegan being unanimously approved by the people of Palmer Town to construct a $1 billion legal poker and casino resort within the town’s limits. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe will be up for a gambling and betting related referendum vote as early as November 2013.

Things have been equally busy on the Internet gambling and poker website legislation front. MA State rep. Dan Winslow made an ill-fated attempt to attach online gambling legislation relating to lawful real money Internet poker to H. 3807. Shortly thereafter, he tried to amend similar Internet gambling legislation to a 2012 budget bill. Once again, his efforts to bring MA poker fans legal poker websites to play at for real cash failed. Months later, a second attempt to amend an online gambling and Internet poker clause to a budget bill was met with similar results.

In 2013, MA State Senator Minority Leader Bruce Tarr introduced S. 1826, an amendment to a transportation bill that would permit state officials to provide iGaming lawful Internet poker licenses to online gambling providers. Tarr’s amendment would ultimately be rejected in July 2013 [3].

Experts in the poker website industry have indicated that the time for online gambling and real money poker betting legislation in Massachusetts isn’t ripe yet, but that after ground is broken on its land-based casinos and real cash poker offerings, it will be.

Another factor possibly holding Massachusetts legislators back is New Jersey. Until the Garden State can prove to its closest neighbors that online gambling and Internet poker is a viable real money-making machine, most New England and Mid-Atlantic states, including MA, will probably hold off on passing legislation on legal poker websites of their own.

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Can Players from Massachusetts Play Online Poker?

YesAlthough there is no official law regulating Internet gaming and real cash poker websites in Massachusetts, that doesn’t mean its residents still can’t sit around in their pyjamas playing online poker at top Internet poker websites – quite the contrary. If anything, US-facing real money gambling online poker websites are more than willing to accept players from The Bay State. Take a look at our list of online poker real money website options for real cash players in MA looking for legit Internet poker websites to play at to find out which poker betting websites accept players from Massachusetts.

Is Online Poker Legal in Massachusetts?

The Internet poker gambling and real money betting statutes of most states including MA haven’t been updated since before the inception of the Internet, let alone include statues specific to online poker and playing Internet poker. Therefore, many state laws regarding iGaming poker websites are up to interpretation, with Massachusetts gambling and legal betting laws proving no exception.

With that said, there is nothing in Massachusetts gambling or poker betting statues that explicitly states online gambling and playing Internet poker for real money is illegal. But before you start celebrating and throwing your real cash poker chips in the air, it is advisable that you seek the legal consul of a professional who knows about the lawful Internet poker scene in MA.

In the meantime, we’ve dissected facets of several Massachusetts gambling and poker betting statues, in an attempt to help you make a more informed decision regarding your options when it comes to finding a real money Internet poker websites to play at in MA:

  • “Gaming” not “gambling” is defined to include every act punishable under any law relative to lotteries, policy lotteries or policy, the buying or selling of pools or registering of bets. Apparently, in Massachusetts the word lottery is synonymous with betting and gambling. (Chapter 4, Section 7)
  • As expected, the penalties for permitting a non legit gambling operation in MA are harsher than for merely participating in an illegal gambling or real cash betting activity. Gamblers are subject to a fine of no more than fifty dollars or [imprisonment] for no more than three months while anyone who permits a game of something like Texas Hold’em poker can do up to one year of jail time.
  • Running a sizable gambling ring (Chapter 271, Section 16A) carries with it heavy levies in MA, including up to fifteen (15) years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In order to be guilty, the gambling or betting ringleader would have to be in charge of at least four persons so that such persons may provide facilities or services or assist in the provision of facilities or services for the conduct of illegal lotteries, or for the illegal registration of bets or the illegal buying and selling of pools upon the result of a trial or contest in Massachusetts.
  • The use of a telephone for gaming purposes is deemed illegal. The law was probably designed to combat sports betting and not legal real money poker gambling, but it can be loosely interpreted as a blanket law that would envelop online gambling and Internet poker betting. Penalties for placing phone bets include up to a $2,000 fine and as much as one year behind bars in an MA prison.

Massachusetts features plenty (soon to be more) facilities where gambling on real money poker games is considered legal and acceptable.

To read more about Massachusetts gambling and real cash poker betting laws [4] and other gaming related news, check out the “References” section.

  • U. S. Poker Site
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The Facts

The History of Gambling in Massachusetts



Betting on horse racing and dog racing was legalized.



The modern lottery was created and introduced to the state of Massachusetts in 1971. The first draw took place the following year and has grew ever since.



The rapid growth of gambling throughout Massachusetts saw the introduction of a casino expansion bill. Unfortunately, this didn’t make it into law and was not signed by the governor.



A casino bill passed under the Expanded Gaming Act. This resulted in three casino resorts and one slot parlor to be built and opened.



Charitable gaming revenues were recorded and reportedly $66.5 million was the total annual gross from the year.



Potential arose for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to start plans on building a casino in the south eastern part of the state. This was a result of the federal tribal commission dropping objections to the proposed idea.



This was a big year for the state as it saw the opening of a slot parlor at Plainridge Park casino. Additionally, MGM Springfield and Wynn Everett are two casino resorts under development.

Unlike other pre-Revolutionary War colonies, the majority of Massachusetts early residents were vehemently opposed to lotteries and other forms of gambling like legal Texas Hold’em poker betting. Part of this unfavorable outlook on legit gambling in MA was likely due to the widespread presence of Puritans. By the 1800s Massachusetts’ betting stance had grown so strong that it would offer opposition to other states establishing real money lotteries and thus allowing legal gambling.

As it did in most north-eastern states, the Great Depression forced Massachusetts to loosen its haughty stance on gambling and legit poker betting, and by 1934 the State Racing Commission was created. Simultaneously, the Suffolk Downs [5] horseracing gambling track was built. Harness and greyhound racing tracks followed shortly thereafter. Betting real money in MA on greyhound racing has since been banned (2008).

Ironically, Massachusetts was also one of the first states to implement a statewide Lottery for its gambling hungry citizens. In the early 1970s, the state was desperately in need of a revenue infusion, and the lottery provided a welcome windfall of lawful gambling real money revenue.

Charitable and pari-mutuel betting are also legal in Massachusetts, and as of 2011 commercial casinos and real money poker gambling rooms became permissible in MA under state law. Tribal casinos and real cash poker card rooms, like those in Connecticut, are also deemed legal within Massachusetts borders.

To date, the only building labeled a casino in Massachusetts is Stockbridge Casino, which functioned as a social attraction and not a real money poker gambling facility. Today, Stockbridge Casino is a historic tourist attraction and not somewhere to go for a little real cash Texas Hold’em poker action.

Regulation Gambling Options in Massachusetts

Just because nearly every type of gambling and betting including real money poker gambling is legal in Massachusetts, doesn’t mean MA citizens have a plethora of options when it comes to where to do their lawful real money betting. If anything, they’re usually forced to drive into Connecticut or another neighboring state to get their gambling or poker betting fix. That will change soon, as within the next several years at least one commercial or tribal casino with a real money poker room will open its doors to the public.

In addition to the imminent construction of a full-scale casino resort, Massachusetts residents can purchase real cash lottery tickets from one of hundreds of authorized sellers, or participate in various charitable or pari-mutuel gambling and gambling settings. This is a great way for poker betting fans to satisfy their gambling itches before real money poker comes to MA in full force.

Poker players in Massachusetts can pick from an array of poker websites, none of which are regulated by the state.

The Future of Regulated Online Gambling in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is one of only a handful of east coast states that could support a viable intrastate Internet poker iGaming operation. Its population rivals that of New Jersey, and Massachusetts is the sixth most visited state in the US (New Jersey is ninth) meaning MA stands to make a lot of money out of its gambling population if it opens real cash legal poker websites [6]. The state of MA is also open to future Internet gambling and real money poker betting compacts with Pennsylvania and California, should those states legalize regulated online gambling and Internet poker as well.

However, all of MA state’s attempts to push iGaming Internet poker legislation thus far have fallen decidedly flat. Combine that with the state’s elongated land-based casino and real money poker room expansion efforts and it could be a while before the online gambling and real cash poker websites in MA issue is taken seriously. Although, once the time is right for Internet gambling to become lawful in MA, and it seems inevitable that it will be, Massachusetts should be in full support of expanding into the Internet gambling and real money poker websites market.

Fun Fact

“Action Dan” Harrington, the writer of Harrington on Hold’em – a series of real cash poker books that has helped hundreds of thousands of aspiring gambling poker players elevate their Texas Hold’em poker games – is a native of Massachusetts, indicative by his heavy Boston accent, and authentic green Red Sox cap.

Most famous for winning the prestigious poker betting tournament that was the WSOP Main Event in 1995 and making back-to-back final table Main Event appearances in 2003 and 2004, Harrington’s notorious real money poker squeeze play was on full display on national TV, and remains one of the most memorable hands in recent legit poker history.

The Bottom Line

Massachusetts, like so many other states in the area, is proceeding with caution into the world of lawful real cash Internet poker. Until its land-based casino and real money poker gambling room arrangements are settled, do not expect an online gambling Internet poker bill to pass through MA government. Even then, if New Jersey and Delaware fail to make headway in the iGaming Internet poker and real cash gambling market, Massachusetts might abandon its tentative plans to introduce online gambling and Internet poker websites completely.

But with Connecticut determined to expand into the virtual arena of real money poker websites, and the possibility of interstate Internet poker compacts looming, the next logical step for Massachusetts would be to throw its hat into the legal real cash poker websites mix – especially since it’s already in the process of building three facilities that could legally inhabit online gaming operations and legit real money Internet poker websites.


[1] Governor Patrick Signs Expanded Gaming Legislation

[2] Two Connecticut Tribes Closer to Building Casinos in Massachusetts

[3] Another Swing and a Miss for Massachusetts Online Gambling

[4] Massachusetts Gaming Commission

[5] Suffolk Downs

[6] Statistic Brain: Tourism Stats

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