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Online Gambling & Poker Laws in Massachusetts

MassachusettsLegal and illegal gambling played a part in almost every state in the United States in the early days. Massachusetts is no different than any other state. Gambling played a role in their early years. Then people came along and decided that gambling was wrong, and the state passed laws against it. Over the years Massachusetts has legalized various forms of gambling, and as recent as 2012 they decided to allow 3 casinos to open in their state.

Can Players From Massachusetts Play Poker Online?

Yes! Online poker is a popular pastime for the residents of Massachusetts. Over the past few years we have seen a lot of sites pull out of the US market due to the feds making it harder and harder for sites to find payment processors, but there are still several poker sites that accept players from the United States.

There are a few states that online poker sites will not accept players from, but Massachusetts is not one of these states that are banned. You will have no problems finding a variety of sites to play real money poker online if you live in Massachusetts.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Massachusetts?

The legality of online poker is a question in almost every state. A few states have legalized online poker, a few states have made it illegal, but for the most part the legality of playing poker online is a grey area in almost all states. This is no different in Massachusetts.  We have looked over the laws in Massachusetts pertaining to gambling, and we have an overview of some of the laws that may pertain to online poker below:

  • Massachusetts law considers all gambling illegal unless the law has specifically made it legal. ‘Illegal gaming,’ a banking or percentage game played with cards, dice, tiles or dominoes, or an electronic, electrical or mechanical device or machine for money, property, checks, credit or any representative of value. (Chapter 4, Section 7)
  • Massachusetts law refers to sweepstakes as a game that a person can enter with a prize. Online poker could fall under this section: It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly possess with the intent to operate, or place into operation, an electronic machine or device to: (1) conduct a sweepstakes through the use of an entertaining display, including the entry process or the reveal of a prize; or (2) promote a sweepstakes that is conducted through the use of an entertaining display, including the entry process or the reveal of a prize. (Chapter 271, Section 5B)
  • The punishment for committing a crime under this law is stiff: Any person who violates this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $250,000 per electronic machine or device placed into operation or by imprisonment in state prison for not more than 15 years, or by both such fine and imprisonment. (Chapter 271, Section 5B) [1]
  • Charity games are legal with proper licensing.
  • Home poker games seem to be legal as long as no one is taking a rake or any kind of fee to have the game, but this is also a grey area in the laws.

Massachusetts has some stiff laws when it comes to unlawful gambling. Playing poker online is not mentioned in their laws, but some of the current laws could make playing poker online illegal. We are definitely not experts in any kind of laws. Please consult an attorney if you are concerned about the legality of gambling in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Gambling History

The state of Massachusetts has a long history of gambling. The Indian tribes in Massachusetts say that gambling was a part of their culture before the Europeans arrived and enforced their laws. These tribes have been fighting the state for many years for their rights to open casinos.

Massachusetts has a history of picking and choosing what they think is “acceptable gambling.” They have been dead set against casinos until recently, but the state has a long history of legal gambling. The first form of legal gambling that is still legal in Massachusetts today is betting on horse races. Suffolk Downs race track was built in 1934. It was very popular and more tracks followed including not only horse tracks but also dog tracks.

The race tracks were the only form of legalized gambling in Massachusetts besides charity gaming until 1971. The cash-strapped state that had been so against any other gambling decided that a lottery was an acceptable form of gambling. The lottery was initially an in-state only lottery, but eventually the state joined the Mega Millions and Powerball with other states.

Massachusetts has long been a state that opposed casinos. The Indian tribes have fought for years for the right to open a casino in the area. They have states that it is their right. Some have gone around the law by opening casinos on boats that actually go out into the waters so they are not actually in the state of Massachusetts. [2]

Several studies have been done over the years, and information has been presented showing how much money Massachusetts is losing because their residents are traveling to other states to gamble. The state once again had a change of heart on their gambling views in 2012. They decided that 3 land based casinos would be acceptable.

Massachusetts will receive 25% of the revenue from the casinos. The state was struggling with finances prior to approving the casinos. This seems to be a pattern with Massachusetts. They are dead set against any form of gambling until they need a boost in income, and then they seem to have a change of heart. [3]

The Indian tribes in Massachusetts were not too happy about the state approving three state run casinos. They have been fighting for years to have casinos on their lands. On January 3, 2014 it was reported that a compact had been drawn up between the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and the state of Massachusetts to open a casino. The tribe and the state are both very happy with this decision. [4]

Legalized Gambling Options in Massachusetts

There will be land based casinos in Massachusetts soon. Presently Massachusetts has betting on horse races, betting on dog races, combination casino/racetracks, charity bingo games, and state lottery. If you are a resident of Massachusetts or just visiting the state, you should have no problems finding some legal gambling action.

Massachusetts Related Poker News

Commission: Not Yet for Online Poker in Massachusetts

A special commission set up to investigate DFS, online gambling and online poker in Massachusetts is recommending that only DFS is regulated at present.

Will Massachusetts Legalize Online Poker in the Future?

Massachusetts has actually had legislation presented twice to legalize online poker. The legislation has failed, but the issue has been addressed. At this point, it is very likely that Massachusetts will legalize online poker sometime in the near future. We may have to wait until the state is desperate for money again, but I have a feeling that it will move forward on this issue soon.

References:

  1. Jump up ^ Massachusetts Gambling Laws
  2. Jump up ^ Massachusetts Gambling History
  3. Jump up ^ Massachusetts Allows 3 Casinos
  4. Jump up ^ Indian Casinos Approved
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