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Playing Poker in the State of Massachusetts

Massachusetts state map
Massachusetts state flag

Online poker in Massachusetts is a favorite pastime for thousands of the state's residents. Some states are hotbeds for political action in the gambling world with debates about if a new casino should be built, how close to a major city it should be, and what companies should be allowed to build said casino. Massachusetts is one such state. If you know anything about the political system in the United States, though, you know that it does not move quickly, and players could be waiting forever if they are hoping that regulated poker will be considered in the state. Luckily, there are many offshore gambling sites that are available to those in the state, so they are not going to hurt from a lack of options for online poker playing. Below is the list of the best Massachusetts online poker sites available to those players!

 

Online Poker Sites Available in Massachusetts

Rather than choosing a poker room at random, you can select one from the list below to ensure your own security and peace of mind. All of the sites we recommend to you are trustworthy, reliable, and well-run companies. They pay out winnings quickly without any issues. We've taken the trouble of investigating the traffic levels, variety of games on offer, bonuses, and the other elements of these poker sites so that you don't have to do all the hard work. Simply read our summaries of them, and then choose one that seems right for you.

    Ignition Poker

Positive Attributes of Ignition

Ignition Poker is beloved by Massachusetts online poker enthusiasts because it's the largest virtual poker site open to residents of the United States. When you join up at this PaiWangLuo Network operation, you'll get a 100% up to $1,000 bonus on your initial deposit. The bonus is worth about 30% rakeback on your SNG and tournament play, but its value is a bit less in cash games.

 Play at Ignition Poker Now CTA

All gameplay at Ignition is anonymized, so participants are identified solely by a randomly generated number rather than a screenname. This allows less sophisticated players to feel comfortable because they can't be targeted or tracked by savvier adversaries. Regardless of the pros and cons of this system, it does lead to pretty juicy games as recreational customers head here in droves.

If you enjoy ring games, then you'll find No Limit Texas Hold'em, Pot Limit Omaha, Pot Limit Omaha/8, Limit Texas Hold'em, and Limit Omaha-8 here. The big-bet games run from $0.02/$0.05 through $10/$20, and the limit varieties go up to $30/$60. There's a fast-fold form of cash poker too, called Zone Poker, which lets you fold your hand and immediately receive new cards at a new table. With Zone, you can avoid the downtime involved in waiting for a new hand to begin.

Sit-n-goes are present from $1 + $0.05 up to $200 + $14, and there are a few formats, like Triple-Up and Beginners contests, that can't be found elsewhere. The MTT schedule is packed full of guarantees to the tune of $1.5 million each week. The headline weekly event is the $150 + $12 $100,000 guaranteed, which takes place on Sunday and often tops its guarantee amount by a healthy margin. Frequent tournament series, like the Super Millions Poker Open, give you a chance to try to score a huge payday if you're lucky and good.

Ignition's poker room is compatible with Windows, Mac, and mobile. However, if you access it through the responsive mobile web app, you won't be able to play tournaments or SNGs because only cash games are present. Ignition also has a casino, and in addition to your poker bonus, you'll get another 100% up to $1,000 offer to use in the casino section.

Professional Rakeback Ignition cta

To start playing Ignition Poker now, follow the banner link above. We also have a thorough Ignition Casino Poker review that you may wish to read.

 

        Chico Network

Image About Chico's Advantages

Players at the Chico Poker Network get to enjoy cash games, tournaments, and sit n' gos at the third-largest poker network that accepts Massachusites. The main site on the network is BetOnline, and as a new player, you're entitled to a 100% up to $2,500 poker bonus. This deal is worth 33% rakeback.

Play Now at Chico Network

The ring games here start as low as $0.01/$0.02 and reach as high as $5/$10. You'll find plenty of action in NLHE and PLO, and there are also a few games of PLO Hi-Lo to sample. You can play sit-n-goes from $0.05 to $500 + $25, and all but the highest stakes run regularly. MTTs are mostly priced at $33 and below, but there is a $90 + $9 Main Event every Sunday that distributes at least $50,000 to the winners. On the last Sunday of each month, it grows to a $100 + $9 buyin and a $100,000 guaranteed prize pool.

BetOnline maintains a fully featured sportsbook, casino, and other wagering platforms in addition to the poker side of the business, so you can conduct all your online real money gaming in one place. There are many promos and bonuses for these various products, so you can pad your bankroll a bit. Most of these betting opportunities are mobile compatible, including poker. The mobile app, for iOS and Android, contains almost all the same games you'll find in the desktop version, which is compatible with PC and Mac.

As far as rewards for your play go, there are several perks at BoL. First of all, you'll get about 5% value back through the comp points program, which allows you to exchange points for tournament buyins. Potentially even more beneficial are the weekly leaderboards. There are three of them (for ring games, sit N' gos, and multi-table tournaments), and they award a total of $20,000 each week.

ProfRakeback's BetOnline cta

Click on the banner above to register your new account. Or you can read our page devoted to BetOnline first to familiarize yourself with the site. Another firm on the Chico Network that you may wish to consider is Sportsbetting.ag.

 

    Horizon Network

Intertops' positive features graphic

A longtime veteran of the online gambling space, Intertops has actually been around since before the internet was around, making it a true forerunner of the industry. It's the leading site on the Horizon Poker Network. Newcomers at the room get a 200% up to $1,000 bonus along with 100 free lines to use in the casino.

Horizon CTA: play now

Your bonus will release at a rate of 27% of your rake back, and you'll also get 36% dealt rakeback when you sign up through our links. The free casino bets are worth $90 or even more when you play blackjack with them. You'll be able to enter a $1,000 depositors freeroll as well.

The Horizon Network doesn't really have tons of tables going, and the games you do see will be concentrated at $50nl and lower. SNGs really only start up frequently at $5 and below. The tournament lobby has many entries listed, and the most notable of them is the daily $50 + $5 Sundowner tournament, which guarantees $1,500 six days a week and $2,500 on Sundays.

Compensating for the relatively small player volume are the numerous rewards provided by Intertops. There's a rakerace for the sum of $4,000 weekly, and you don't need to play too much to place on the leaderboard. Reload bonuses appear about once or twice a month, and you can obtain no-deposit bonuses through the loyalty tiers program. There are many satellites to fun live events throughout the year, and they often have overlays, offering great value as you attempt to earn your seat.

Intertops highlights cta

To sample the gameplay and promos at Intertops, follow the “Visit Site Now” link above now. You can learn more about the site by browsing through our Intertops Poker review.

 

     Winning Network

WPN's positive features image

The Winning Poker Network, headlined by Americas Cardroom, has the second-largest player liquidity of any site open to Massachusettsians. ACR provides all new depositors with a 100% up to $1,000 welcome bonus, which delivers returns at a rate of 20% cashback, and $50 to spend on Jackpot Poker SNG buyins

ACR

Tournaments are an especial focus of the site, including sit-and-gos. As far as multi-table contests go, you can play the weekly Sunday Special for $200 + $15 and compete for a prize pool of no less than $150,000. There are also many recurring series, like the Online Super Series, with multiple millions of dollars up for grabs. On the single-table front, there are the standard offerings you would expect, from micros to high stakes, as well as two special variants that you won't find elsewhere. SNG 2.0 is a nine-handed competition where the prize pool can grow based on the results of a pre-game round. Jackpot Poker, for which you'll get a complimentary $50, is a three-handed affair where the prize pool is determined by a random multiplier that can be as high as 2,500 times your buyin.

If cash games are more your speed, then you'll be pleased by the wide range of stakes available: from $0.01/$0.02 to $25/$50 in NL Hold'em, PL Omaha, and PL Omaha/8. The blinds go even higher in the limit games, which are LHE, LO8, Seven Card Stud, and Stud/8. Most of the action is in the NL and PL games, but there are usually a dozen or so tables running across all the limit variants.

There's a leaderboard for cash games, called The Beast, and another one of sit-n-goers, called Sit & Crush. Each of them is funded through a portion of the normal rake and SNG fees, so you don't have to pay extra to participate. They distribute thousands of dollars and hundreds of satellite seats to the winners each week. In addition, you'll get free cash through the Elite Benefits system, and the payouts get higher the more you play.

Highlights CTA for Americas Cardroom

Register now at ACR by following the banner link above. We've put together a detailed Americas Cardroom Poker review, which you can peruse at your leisure.

The Winning Poker Network is composed of several distinct organizations, of which Americas Cardroom is just one. Much as any other poker network does, it combines the resources of all the participating firms to put together a better service than they otherwise would be able to separately. Other entities on the WPN that you may be interested in are BlackChip Poker (read review), True Poker (read review), and PokerHost (read review). If you'd like to set up a rakeback deal on any of these sites, check out our instructions on signing up for WPN rakeback.

 

        Grand Network

Grand Network's positives image

5Dimes has been serving up an excellent sportsbetting and casino wagering lineup for more than a decade, and it now has its own poker network, the Grand Poker Network. Because it's one of the most reputable companies out there, you can deposit your money with a feeling of security and safety. One of the highlights of the poker software is that it's availble for myriad platforms. You can play from a Windows machine, a Mac, a tablet, or a smartphone.

There aren't usually more than a few cash games active at any given time from $0.05/$0.10 to $1/$2. The opponents you're likely to encounter don't know very much about poker because the majority of them are sports bettors and casino enthusiasts rather than cardsharks. The tournament scene is a bit underwhelming, though, because there's nothing above the $5.50 level.

Nevertheless, the tourneys here do present a profitable opportunity because there are several of them every day that don't charge any house fees. This means that everything you and others pay to enter is returned back in the form of prizes. A $500 freeroll on Sundays lets you even build up your roll from nothing. On top of this, you'll also get 50% rakeback when you click through our links and create your 5Dimes account.

5Dimes Banner cta/highlights

Follow the banner button above to go to 5 Dimes now. Our Grand Poker Network overview will tell you more about the network and the other partner organizations that are members of it.


 

How to Choose the Right Massachusetts Poker Site

We've presented you with the premier internet poker sites for Bay Staters, and now it's up to you to decide which one seems like the best fit for you. Your own personal preferences and habits will come into play here, so we can't really give you a definitive answer in favor of one room or another. We can, however, give you some guidance on the factors to consider while attempting to select a place to play.

☛ If you want to open up the poker client and see a ton of active games, then Ignition and Winning Network won't disappoint you.


☛ If you wish to be able to play from virtually any computing device, then Ignition, Chico, and Grand have the cross-platform software you seek.


☛ If you think that you deserve a sizeable signup bonus, then Chico's $2,500 for free ought to please you.


☛ If you're looking forward to big rakeback payments, then Horizon's 36% and Grand's 50% deals should keep you happy.


☛ If you're interested in fast-fold poker, then Ignition is the only destination in the USA market for this type of gaming.


☛ If tournament series get your pulse racing, then Winning Poker Network and Ignition host them several times per year.


☛ If you're in the market for recurring rewards, then the programs in effect at Horizon and the WPN will compensate you as you play.

 

Payout Report

Picture of Cash

You can be assured of being able to make deposits and receive your cashouts without incident. Some of the methods for doing so include credit cards, money transfer services, and checks. Perhaps the best means of moving your money around online is the digital currency Bitcoin. It allows you to complete your transactions without needless delays and with low fees. If you're unsure about how to use cryptocurrency, then you may want to look at our walkthrough on getting started with Bitcoin.

 

Massachusetts Online Poker Law

Legal Book

The Massachusetts laws governing gambling are quite lengthy and contained in disparate sections of the MA General Laws. While it's tough to be absolutely certain of how all these laws interact with each other, we believe, after thoroughly reading the relevant sections, that online poker is either completely legal or so minor an infraction that it might as well be legal. There is a helpful definition of what constitutes “illegal gaming” in Chapter 4, Section 7. This chapter relates to statutes in general, so the details elaborated here apply to every law on the books in MA, rather than just those in Chapter 4, unless otherwise stated elsewhere.

"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, but excluding: (i) a lottery game conducted by the state lottery commission, under sections 24, 24A and 27 of chapter 10; (ii) a game conducted under chapter 23K; (iii) pari-mutuel wagering on horse races under chapters 128A and 128C and greyhound races under said chapter 128C; (iv) a game of bingo conducted under chapter 271; and (v) charitable gaming conducted under said chapter 271.

The words “banking or percentage game” are critical here. In most jurisdictions that employ this phrasing, it refers to games in which there's a house or a banker that bankrolls the games. Roulette, blackjack, keno, and other casino pastimes would fall into this category, but poker would not because each player is betting for himself or herself, and the house doesn't win or lose based on the results of a hand. Assuming this is the understanding that's applied in Massachusetts – and there's no reason to think that it isn't – poker is excluded from falling into the category of “banking or percentage game” and is thus not deemed illegal gaming in the eyes of the law.

The main provisions dealing with gambling are contained in Chapter 271 although some sections of this chapter pertain to commodities, bribery, usury, and other miscellaneous topics. Looking at section 2, we see that:

Whoever, in a public conveyance or public place, or in a private place upon which he is trespassing, plays at cards, dice or any other game for money or other property, or bets on the sides or hands of those playing, except as permitted under chapter 23K, shall forfeit not more than fifty dollars or be imprisoned for not more than three months; and whoever sets up or permits such a game shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty nor more than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not less than three nor more than twelve months.

You could suffer a fine of up to $50 or a jail sentence of up to three months but only if you're playing in public or on private property on which you're trespassing. So long as you play cards at home, privately, you have nothing to worry about.

The rule outlined in Chapter 271, Section 1 may be more fitting for online pokerists:

Whoever, on a prosecution commenced within eighteen months after the commission of the crime, is convicted of winning at one time or sitting, by gaming or betting on the sides or hands of those gaming, except as permitted under chapter 23K, money or goods to the value of five dollars or more, and of receiving the same or security therefor, shall forfeit double the value of such money or goods.

It's possible that you could be held liable if you win more than $5 while gaming. The good news is that the only punishment is having to forfeit double the sum you won. In any case, nobody will have any way of knowing how much or little you win (or lose) in any internet poker session unless you broadcast this information publicly.

There's another bit of legalese that seems similar to this one except that it involves paying back your winnings to the loser rather than just forfeiting them. The paragraph we're talking about is Chapter 137, Section 1:

Whoever, by playing at cards, dice or other game, or by betting on the sides or hands of those gaming, except for gaming conducted in licensed gaming establishments pursuant to chapter 23K, loses to a person so playing or betting money or goods, and pays or delivers the same or any part thereof to the winner, or whoever pays or delivers money or other thing of value to another person for or in consideration of a lottery, policy or pool ticket, certificate, check or slip, or for or in consideration of a chance of drawing or obtaining any money, prize or other thing of value in a lottery or policy game, pool or combination, or other bet, may recover such money or the value of such goods in contract; and if he does not within three months after such loss, payment or delivery, without covin or collusion, prosecute such action with effect, any other person may sue for and recover in tort treble the value thereof.

Basically, this allows gambling losers to sue to regain the amount they had to hand over. If someone fails to take legal action to recover gaming losses within three months, then anyone else may bring suit to try to reclaim three times the sum in question. Needless to say, none of your online poker adversaries are likely to endeavor to employ this law to claw back their money out of your hands. And if anyone in a live game attempts to do so, we advise paying that person what the law says you owe and then banning him or her from participating in any future game you ever host or play in.

There's one other restriction that some feel could make online poker illegal in Massachusetts. That is the text in Chapter 271, Section 17A, entitled “Telephones; use for gaming purposes." It reads as follows:

Whoever uses a telephone or, being the occupant in control of premises where a telephone is located or a subscriber for a telephone, knowingly permits another to use a telephone so located or for which he subscribes, as the case may be, for the purpose of accepting wagers or bets, or buying or selling of pools, or for placing all or any portion of a wager with another, upon the result of a trial or contest of skill, speed, or endurance of man, beast, bird, or machine, or upon the result of an athletic game or contest, or upon the lottery called the numbers game, or for the purpose of reporting the same to a headquarters or booking office, or who under a name other than his own or otherwise falsely or fictitiously procures telephone service for himself or another for such purposes, shall be punished by a fine of not more than two thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year.

Leaving aside the question of whether or not transmitting data over the internet counts as using a telephone (maybe only if you have dial-up?), it's clear that this restriction has nothing to do with poker. The language indicates that it only pertains to accepting wagers from others, betting on sports, horseraces, and the like, betting on numbers, and reporting such information to a central office.

Almost all of the Massachusetts legislation that pertains to gambling does nothing to criminalize poker either online or in a live setting. Even the rare statutes that seem like they could encompass internet poker only carry fines of pretty small amounts of money. You won't face any legal issues for engaging in online poker in Massachusetts on your own computer at home.

Those who run illicit games run the risk of more severe consequences. Keeping a common gaming house, permitting lotteries or games of chance in a building, promoting gambling, and possession of a gaming device are a few of the charges they could be found guilty of. The penalties attached to such activities vary greatly depending on the severity of the infraction and can reach as high as imprisonment for a term as long as 15 years and/or a fine of up to $250,000.

Regardless of the stiff punishments doled out to gambling operators, very few of the offshore sites that accept American customers decline to serve the Massachusetts market. They've received the advice of professional counsel who probably feel that the chances of the state going after them are so low as to be not worth worrying about. Whatever their reasoning happens to be, you should have no problem finding a great place to play cards on the internet.

Several of the passages we've quoted exempt gaming that's conducted in accordance with Chapter 23K of the MA statutes. This chapter deals with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, licensure, cheating, underage gambling, and other similar subjects that pertain to the supervised forms of betting available in the state.

 

History of Gambling in Massachusetts

Old Compass
Lottery Ticket from Colonial Massachusetts
Lottery Ticket from Colonial Massachusetts

The early Puritans who settled in what is now Massachusetts were pious folk eager to establish the perfect religious society, and there are records indicating that restrictions against gambling were in place as early as 1621. Yet, the public authorities were more than willing to hold lotteries for various public improvement projects. Their desire for money was always at odds with their piety, causing lotteries to be banned and then reinstated several times in the colonial period. During the American Revolution, Massachusetts held a lottery to support the Continental Army. Finally, in 1833, all lotteries were prohibited in Massachusetts, and they did not reappear again in the 19th century.

Despite gambling being illegal, underground gambling saloons flourished especially in the major city of Boston. According to one estimate, there were 26 illicit gambling parlors on Ann Street (now called North Street) alone in 1851. That said, Massachusetts didn't really have a wild gambling scene comparable to that of Western frontier areas or the Mississippi and its riverboats.

Things remained this way until the Great Depression. Charitable gaming was permitted in 1932 to enable nonprofit groups to enhance their crumbling finances. Race track betting followed in 1934. The modern Massachusetts Lottery was authorized in 1971 and began operations the next year.

In 2011, lawmakers allowed three commercial casinos to be opened. Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville opened up in 2015, and two other casinos are expected to join it in the coming years. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has started to construct a casino in Taunton, but the project has been delayed by disagreements between the tribe, the state, and the federal government.

 

Regulation Chance for Online Poker

Brown File Folder

Massachusetts hasn't yet passed legislation for the licensing of the online poker industry in the state, but it did do so for daily fantasy sports in 2016. In January 2017, State Senator Bruce Tarr introduced SD. 618, which would allow existing land-based MA gaming operators to obtain permission to hold online games. Later the same year, the state set up a Special Commission to investigate online gaming. The report of the commission approved of the legality of DFS while finding that other forms of real money gaming should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis going forward. This leaves the door open for internet poker regulation sometime in the near future, and we expect the authorities to take action on this matter in the next few years.

 

Land Based Gambling

Plainridge Park Casino Logo

Charitable gambling is permitted in Massachusetts. MA regulations have a few weird words pertaining to this type of activity. “Beano” basically means bingo while “bazaars” refers to casino nights with table games, like blackjack and roulette, along with poker. Qualifying organizations can hold raffles too. Parimutuel betting is available at several racetracks across the state, including Suffolk Downs in East Boston. Massachusetts has been oddly reluctant to implement casino real money gaming despite the fact that the state lottery has been going strong since the early '70s. Plainridge Park, a combination racetrack and casino, is the only casino in the state, and it's only permitted to host slots and electronic table games. More casinos are expected to appear in a few years.

 

Conclusion

If you'd like to play online poker in Massachusetts, there's nothing stopping you. There are plenty of sites willing to accept your action. The Massachusetts online poker laws aren't very harsh, and anyway, they're never enforced against ordinary players. Sign up to a reputable internet poker room today, and start playing.

 

 

Do you have an address in a nearby state?

States Adjacent to Massachusetts

If you are lucky enough to have another address in a nearby state, be it your business address, summer home, second apartment, family home, etc, you may have other online poker options available to you.  Here are a list of the states that border Massachusetts and Professional Rakeback's review on each of them: Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. If you're curious about the online poker situation in some other part of the country, then check out our guide for U.S. online poker players.

Internet poker in Massachusetts is a subject that many people are ignorant about. If you believe that any of your friends or relatives would like to learn more about it, then please share this page with them and help to spread illumination about online poker.