Massachusetts Poker Legal 2023
The home of the Boston Red Sox and many Ivy League colleges could well be one of the next US states to legalize and regulate online poker. That's right, if you've been waiting to see online poker Massachusetts sites open up, it could happen very soon. But you don't have to necessarily wait. Online poker MA legal sites already exist. More on that in a second.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been making moves toward some kind of regulation in The Bay State and has started with forums studying whether online gaming is viable there. There's a big push to see legal poker sites in Massachusetts for good reason.
Massachusetts enjoyed a healthy online poker-playing populace pre-UIGEA, and there's no reason those Texas Hold'em-hungry players should have disappeared. If more states go legal, Massachusetts may feel it has no reason to be left out of the party any longer and welcome online poker MA legislation.
Is Online Poker Legal in Massachusetts?
Under current MA law, while there are no legal poker sites in Massachusetts that are regulated by the state, there is nothing to stop anyone playing poker online for real money.
Some laws DO relate to live tournaments, however. In regards to tournaments, Chapter 271 of the MA General Laws states that, "poker tournaments that do not violate Massachusetts lottery laws are still illegal if they allow players or spectators to register bets of money or anything else of value on the result of the game(s)," while also banning bets taken within state lines - but even those are hard to prove. Non-profit poker games are legal, however.
As of 2023, though, no US player in Massachusetts has ever been prosecuted for playing Hold'em online for cash. That's kind of expected though, especially since online poker MA legal sites are regulated internationally.
In fact, since UIGEA was enacted in 2006, many Massachusetts players have continued to play for real-money at offshore unregulated sites on the web.
Are Any More Bills Likely?
The fact that hundreds of thousands of players were continuing to play online was recognized in Amendment #365 to Bill H.3400 - Internet Poker Licences - in the MA Legislature.
Bill H.3400 actually applied to state budget proposals as a whole, but the amendment sets out to introduce proper regulation of online gaming operations so that Boston residents and everyone around the state could enjoy legal poker sites in Massachusetts.
Specifically, the amendment sets out to "establish limited Internet gaming in the Commonwealth" which "constitutes a lawful exemption to the UIGEA."
Any such gaming would be restricted to online poker only - as in Nevada at the moment - and be subject to authorizing gaming licenses to firms offering poker online within state borders. That means while we can expect to see online poker Massachusetts residents shouldn't expect to see online casinos.
What's the Live Poker Scene Like?
Online poker legislation follows hot on the heels of new laws governing brick-and-mortar casinos within MA.
In 2011, Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law the Expanded Gaming Act.
While the Gaming Act doesn't allow for the establishment of legal poker sites in Massachusetts, it does allow for three "destination resort casinos" to operate across Massachusetts (with each one strictly located in one of three distinct regions).
The Future of Legal Poker In Massachusetts
Massachusetts certainly looks as if it's at, or near, the top of the 'next to regulate' list of states in the Union, so we could see online poker MA legal sites in operation before you know it.
With live casinos having arrived in the state already, some reports suggest regulated Internet poker could be on the rise soon as well. Online poker MA sites are for the moment limited - just three operators - but if successful, interstate compacts with other regulated states would surely follow.
Some caution was sounded by Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby, who said in 2013 that no online gaming will be available until the first land-based casinos appear. Now they have, we wait to see what the next development will be.
Can I Play Online Poker Legally in Massachusetts?
While MA players wait for the first regulated poker sites in The Bay State, they are free to play at unregulated overseas poker rooms online. Current MA law doesn't specifically outlaw playing poker on the web, so when it comes to online poker MA residents tend to fill the seats on the Internet in record numbers.
Are There Any Live Casinos in Massachusetts?
Yes. As part of the state's Expanded Gaming Act one resort, Plainridge Park Casino, has opened recently, with another two following soon. You can expect to find the poker rooms at these casinos to be flooded with players from legal poker sites in Massachusetts.
Can I Make Real Cash Deposits In Massachusetts?
Massachusetts residents played online poker in droves before and after UIGEA. And there's nothing to suggest they're going anywhere fast. As long as your chosen legit US site accepts a certain deposit method, you can enjoy real-money games at online poker MA legal sites whenever you like.