Massachusetts Legal Poker Sites

Massachusetts StateFor many years, the government in Massachusetts watched residents (and their revenue) cross into neighboring Connecticut to enjoy poker games at the resort casinos of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. In 2011, they finally took action, approving 3 State-licensed casinos. These have gone through tender and construction has already started. Big names like MGM and Hard Rock are building their casinos fast – with poker rooms expected to open in both in 2015 and 2016.

Recommended Massachusetts Poker Site

RankPoker SiteUSABonusBonus CodePlay Now
#1Ignition Poker Review$1100N/AVisit Ignition Poker

This article covers all the different ways you can play poker in this State. First of all, live (casino) poker games are covered. After that you will find information on social poker games including home-games and bar leagues. Next online poker is discussed, along with the chances of future regulated internet games. Finally, you will find information from the Massachusetts Statute books clarifying the legality of poker – along with a summary and quick look into the future.

Live Poker Games For Massachusetts Residents

Until 2015 at least, finding a casino with a poker room is going to involve a trip across State borders into Connecticut. You’ll be happy you made the journey, with the poker rooms at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods some of the best on the East Coast. Big tournament events as well as high and low stakes cash games are the norm at these famous venues.

The Hard Rock and MGM casinos promise poker action soon, and you can be sure that these big casino groups will be looking to attract the major tournament events too. These will be complimented by 1 additional State casino, and a tribal casino is already at the planning stage too. After many years of being a desert for live poker games, MA is about to hit a boom.

Are Home Games Legal In Massachusetts?

You can legally enjoy a social home poker game in this State, with these games having an exemption from the generally strict gambling laws. The rules state that nobody is allowed to make a profit from running these games – which can include raking the pots or charging an entry fee (for example tournament entries).

There are also bar league poker opportunities here. These are not able to charge an entry fee, though they do reward players with small real prizes.

Are Online Poker Games Allowed In MA?

At the moment, internet gambling is assumed to be illegal under the current State laws – which do include a ‘gambling on the telephone’ clause.  There are already some discussions concerning future regulation of internet poker games. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (who oversee all types of gambling in MA) have already come out in favor of regulating online games. While there is some political support for this move, the battle to license live casinos is still in the recent past – so there might not be the political will just yet for another big fight. Success of regulated State poker games elsewhere, including revenues for State coffers, should go a long way to kick-starting this type of legislation. With more than 6.5 million residents, this State would be able to support poker sites of their own – though joining with others in a liquidity sharing deal would benefit both players and the poker sites.

What Do The Massachusetts Statutes Say?

Like many States, the MA law is set up to say that all gambling is illegal, unless there is a specific carve-out on the books. Wagering is the key factor here, and unusually the legal wording does not clearly differentiate between the players of gambling games and the organizers of them (which could be a problem if you get busted!).

Here is the key wording from section 1 of chapter 271 of the State code:

…winning at one time or sitting, by gaming or betting on the sides or hands of those gaming, money or goods to the value of five dollars or more, and of receiving the same or security therefor…

There is no easy ‘skill game’ clause for poker, as the definition of wagering does not specify whether this is on a game of chance or a game of skill. You will find that bets of under $5 are exempt from this definition, though it is not clear if that is per individual bet or per hand.

Poker In Massachusetts – Summing It Up

Things are about to kick off in style for live poker fans in Massachusetts, with the Hard Rock and MGM opening their doors in 2015 and 2016. In the meantime you can still enjoy a road trip across to Connecticut for the games at Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods – or you can play in a social home game (as long as nobody is making a profit by running that game).

Online poker looks like a strong possibility here. Like in many States, the appetite for legislation will largely depend on how much money the pioneer States of Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware raise for their State coffers. Once this is proven, there is little reason to think that Massachusetts would be a State to opt out.