Massachusetts has a long history of rebellion and individualism.
The home of the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere has historically yielded passionate, hardworking, freethinking individuals.
It’s a bit surprising Massachusetts has taken so long to come to the party on casino gambling.
However, it is happening – right now.
Read on for more information about current legal gambling options in the state, how the stage is set for expansion of casino gambling in Massachusetts, and for details on how online lottery and online gambling could also be making their way to the Bay State.
Latest Massachusetts legal gambling news
The individual casino industries in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts aren’t massive, but collectively they’re a New England gambling force.
Two of the biggest gaming companies in the world, MGM and Ladbrokes, are teaming up for a joint sports betting venture in the United States.
While it will be up to the MA Gaming Commission’s regulatory investigation to decide, MA Governor Charlie Baker personally thinks Steve Wynn is not fit to hold a casino license.
Background on expanded gambling in Massachusetts
In 2011, Massachusetts passed the Expanded Gaming Act. The law allowed for three Las Vegas-style casinos and one slots parlor to be constructed in the state. Specifically, the law divided Massachusetts into three regions. It allowed for one casino per region. Four years later, the Plainridge Park Casino (the slots parlor) opened to great fanfare in Plainville, Massachusetts. As evidence of approval for gambling in the state, the casino reached its allowed building capacity within a few hours, and cashiers were temporarily running out of money.
Two other casinos are scheduled to open within the next two years in Massachusetts. MGM Springfield is slated to cut the ribbon in September 2018. The $950 million property is to be located in the south end of Springfield. It should be an economic shot in the arm for the city and region. (This is Region B under the law and covers the western third of the state.)
The other casino under construction is Wynn Boston Harbor, which will open in June 2019. Originally named Wynn Everett, it is a $2.1 billion property that will be located in the Boston suburb of Everett. Under the law, this casino will serve Region A, which is the middle third of the state. (It includes Boston, the state’s capital and largest city).
What remains is Region C, the eastern third of the state, which includes Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. This is an important area because of the overall wealth. The lag on its development is largely due to ongoing court battles with the two federally recognized (and therefore eligible) Native American tribes in Massachusetts.
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe wants to build a $1 billion facility in Taunton. Resistance from residents is delaying the construction. At this point, it is still up in the air whether the tribe can proceed. The other tribe, the Aquinnah Wampanoag, resides on Martha’s Vineyard. They may have a better shot at approval from the court system, but nothing has been decided so far.
For now, Massachusetts can look forward to the two confirmed mega-resorts underway in the state. In general, things have not been so dire in Massachusetts because of the state’s relatively small land area and its proximity to casinos in other states.
Residents and visitors to the state have two options in Rhode Island for slot play. There is the Twin River Casino in Lincoln and Newport Grand Casino in Newport. Beyond that, Bay Staters can also visit Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun in Uncasville or Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket. All four of these casinos are fewer than two hours’ drive from most of Massachusetts.
Below is information on Massachusetts’ lone casino (for the time being) and the four excellent nearby options.
Land-based slots options
|Property||Location||Number of Slots|
|Plainridge Park Casino||Plainview, MA||1,250|
|Twin River Casino||Lincoln, RI||4,200|
|Newport Grand Casino||Newport, RI||1,000|
|Mohegan Sun Casino||Uncasville, CT||5,000|
|Foxwoods Casino||Mashantucket, CT||4,800|
Online gambling options
Massachusetts does not have laws directly addressing online gaming one way or the other. As in many states, the legal framework simply hasn’t caught up to reality yet. So, Massachusetts residents can make use of several offshore sites. The most notable option is Ignition Casino, which offers both poker and casino options.
However, Massachusetts has shown itself to be relatively agreeable to the notion of online gambling, as it was one of the few states to legalize daily fantasy sports betting. It’s possible that expansion to other forms of online gambling will occur in the near future.
Social casino site options
Bay Staters can make use of all social casino sites available in most states. Slotomania, Double Down, Big Fish, and Zynga are all available via Facebook or mobile device apps. They may also play on the Plainridge Casino site, which maintains a Play4fun network site due to the fact that the casino is owned by Penn National Gaming (which owns the Hollywood Casino chains). The advantage of playing on this site is that it allows Massachusetts residents to get a free preview of the offerings at Plainridge.
Wynn Boston Harbor
Wynn Boston Harbor is a forthcoming casino opening June 2019 in Everett, Massachusetts. Everett is a suburb of Boston, and the property is located a scant five miles from Logan International Airport.
Steve Wynn, the visionary behind the Wynn Las Vegas, Wynn Macau, and the Bellagio, has decided his next conquest is the Boston area. In fact, he has committed $2.1 billion to the project. He has also guaranteed Wynn Boston Harbor will be on par with Borgata, Foxwoods, and any of the other mega-resorts on the East Coast (and in Las Vegas, for that matter).
The investment will revitalize the entire shore area. There will be a new boardwalk (called the Harborwalk), esplanade, and five-star hotel and casino. The 13-acre property will also have a marina and water taxi shuttle service. The water taxis will be luxurious to the point of being enclosed and climate-controlled.
What remains to be seen is Bostonians’ reaction to this luxury property. The caliber of the shops and restaurants is sure to be top-shelf. But the question is whether a regional casino (which WBH will certainly be) can support this kind of market.
Regardless, Wynn Boston Harbor looks to be a wonderful property and a jewel in Boston’s crown. June 2019 will be a fine time to be a Bostonian.
State legal environment
|Permitted/Offered?||Notes & Restrictions|
|Land-Based Gambling||Yes||One slots parlor; two more casinos under construction|
|Online Gambling||No||No law for or against|
|Lottery||Yes||State and multistate drawings available|
|Charitable or House-Based Gambling||Yes||Raffles and bingo|
|Minimum Gambling Age||18 for horse/dog racing, lottery, bingo, and pari-mutuel; 21 for casinos|