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Massachusetts Online Poker: You Have the Liberty to Play Legally in 2020

Internet Poker in Massachusetts

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 online 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.

Also important to note is the fact that there are no Massachusetts state laws that have ever been used to prosecute online poker players. Furthermore, no statutes at the federal level target individual players either. It's only those running the sites that have anything to worry about, but they're effectively outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement and are therefore free to offer their services to residents of Massachusetts, which they most certainly do.

Below is the list of the best Massachusetts online poker sites available to those players!


VISIT THE SITE WITH THE:

 

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 Casino Poker Logo

IGNITION CASINO
Most Players


Ignition has the most traffic of any internet site open to Massachusetts poker players with stakes running as high as $10/$20. Beyond the standard NLHE and PLO ring games, you’ll also encounter Limit Hold’em, fast-fold Zone poker, lottery-style Jackpot Sit & Go, and plenty of multi-table tournaments. In fact, there are sometimes MTT series that award seven or eight figures in total prizes. This is an anonymous room where nobody can see your screenname, and they cannot target you with trackers or other software tools.

You can access Ignition from Mac, PC, and mobile through a cross-platform web app. The standard poker bonus at Ignition is 100% up to $1,000, but this jumps to 125% up to $1,250 if you deposit with Bitcoin.

SB Poker Logo

SB Poker
Weekly Missions


SB Poker has enough player volume to feature ring games of NL Hold’em, PLO, and PLO/8 around the clock, sometimes running as high as $5/$10. In addition, there’s 6+ Hold’em and Boost fast-fold fun to be had. The Sit-n-Go and Tournament sections provide additional types of games. Promotions include a Bad Beat Jackpot that has gone above $1 million before, comp points, and a system of weekly and monthly missions that let you earn entry into valuable freerolls.

Sportsbetting Poker installs to either Mac or PC, and there’s also a superb mobile app. Your first poker deposit bonus is a 100% up to $1,000 match, and further bonuses await you in the associated sportsbook and casino sections.

Bovada Logo

BOVADA
Multiple Gaming


A sister site of Ignition, Bovada boasts the same excellent poker tables and tournaments. However, Bovada permits you to wager on sporting contests and horse races too because it’s one of the leading USA-friendly online bookmakers. Not only are major professional athletic leagues, like the NHL and MLB covered, but also more niche events, like college sports, political elections, and esports matches.

Bovada works great on desktops, laptops, and mobile systems. You can redeem a poker bonus of up to $500 while claiming up to $3,000 for casino games and $250 to bet on sports. Bitcoiners receive even higher bonus amounts.

Logo of Intertops.eu

INTERTOPS
Most Promotions


The poker lobby at Intertops isn’t the busiest around, but there are other factors that compensate for this. The rakeback rate is an enviable 36%, and bonuses alongside a loyalty tiers program grant you even more free money. There are also weekly rake races, frequent redeposit bonuses, tourneys with overlays, and other specials to look forward to.

Intertops is geared toward Windows users, but there is an Instant Play feature that you can use on other devices to get in the games. As a new player, you’ll get a 200% up to $1,000 poker bonus and 25 free spins in the casino.

Americas Cardroom Logo

AMERICAS CARDROOM
$10 Free Bonus


Americas Cardroom is great for high-stakes cash games because it is second in traffic in the US market and sports the highest blind levels available for NLHE, LHE, PLO, and PLO/8 games. However, it’s even better for tournament fans because it regularly has series that deliver more than $10 million in guaranteed prizes along with recurring Venom $5 million events. Fast-fold poker and lottery-style SNGs can also be found here.

ACR works fine on Windows and Mac machines, and there’s also a mobile app although it’s missing many of the games. Use our ACR no deposit bonus code PRB10FREE for $10 free. Then deposit for another $50 free and a 100% up to $1,000 bonus.

5Dimes Logo

5DIMES
50% Rakeback


5Dimes is the least busy site on our list, but it makes up for its low player counts in other ways. First of all, there are a few tournaments every single day that have ZERO house fee. Secondly, everyone who signs up through our links qualifies for 50% rakeback: the highest rate in the US market. Games are soft, and the reputation of the company is top-notch.

You can access the 5Dimes poker site through almost every modern computing system: PC, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android. There isn’t any sign up bonus, but the everyday low rake + 50% RB is a kind of never-ending bonus.


 

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, Bovada, and Americas Cardroom won't disappoint you.


☛ If you wish to be able to play from virtually any computing device, then Ignition, Bovada, SB Poker, and 5Dimes have the cross-platform software you seek.


☛ If you think that you deserve a sizable signup bonus, then Ignition's $1,250 Bitcoin bonus ought to please you.


☛ If you're looking forward to big rakeback payments, then Intertops' 36% and 5Dimes' 50% deals should keep you happy.


☛ If you're interested in fast-fold poker, then Ignition, Bovada, SB.ag, and Americas Cardroom are the destinations for this type of gaming.


☛ If tournament series get your pulse racing, then Americas Cardroom, Ignition, and Bovada host them several times per year.


☛ If you're in the market for recurring rewards, then the programs in effect at Intertops and Americas Cardroom 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 Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield began operations several years late. 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 Plainridge Park, which also has slot machines. 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.

However, in 2011, a bill was passed permitted up to three casinos to be based within the state. MGM Springfield then opened in 2018, followed by Encore Boston Harbor in 2019. Both of these venues feature poker tables, but Encore is the bigger of the two with 74 tables.

Famous Massachusetts Poker Players

Shooting Star

Given the small size of the Baked Bean State and the fact that, until recently, it didn’t have any brick-and-mortar casinos, it’s somewhat surprising to observe the number of poker practitioners who hail from Massachusetts and have made their mark on the game.

Daniel Colman, born in Holden in 1990, has certainly achieved greatness in the world of cards. First honing his craft online under the screennames “mrGR33N13” and “riyyc225,” Colman became the first player in the world to amass $1 million in profit in hyper turbo SNGs in a single year, which he booked in 2013.

Then the following year, he recorded amazing results on the live tournament circuit. First, he bested all other contenders for victory in the €100,000 Super High Roller at EPT Monaco, scoring a payday of approximately $2.1 million.

Then, he won the $1 million-buyin Big One for One Drop tournament at the World Series of Poker, edging out runner-up Daniel Negreanu for the $15.3 million top prize. It was after this tournament that he gained a certain amount of notoriety for refusing media interviews, later stating that “poker is a game that has such a net negative effect on the people playing it” and that he didn’t want to promote the game.

Daniel Coleman’s ambivalent views of poker didn’t stop him from continuing to play it though. Later that same year in August, he took second place in the EPT Barcelona €50,000 High Roller for a little more than $1.1 million. Daniel followed up this performance by clinching the win at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open $5,300 Main Event, which saw him walk away $1.4 million richer.

This single year was responsible for the lion’s share of Dan Colman’s offline tourney winnings, but he did pick up enough cash throughout his career to record more than $28.9 million in live tournament earnings. This puts him first among Massachusetts players and 12th in the world.

Another poker great from Massachusetts is Dan Harrington, originally from Cambridge, although he made his big splash more as an author than as a player. His “Harrington on Hold’em” and “Harrington on Cash Games” series helped to teach aspiring novices the fundamentals of tight-aggressive poker.

Nevertheless, “Action Dan” certainly has had impressive results at the tables. First inhabiting the fabled Mayfair club in New York City during the ‘80s with other giants, like Howard Lederer and Erik Seidel, he made his WSOP debut in 1986. Though his 24th place finish in a Limit Hold’em $1,500 event was nothing to write home about, he did go on to book notable accomplishments in WSOP tournaments.

In 1995, Harrington topped the Main Event field of 273 to win a gold bracelet and $1,000,000 of prize money. He also won a $2,500 buyin tournament at the same Series, bringing his lifetime bracelet count to two.

Perhaps more than winning the Main Event in 1995, when after all, field sizes were much smaller than they are today, Dan’s back-to-back Main Event final tables stand as his proudest achievement. They occurred in 2003 and 2004 when he finished third and fourth respectively, winning $2.15 million in the process.

Dan Harrington’s total live earnings in tournaments stand above $6.6 million, placing him fifth among Massachusites.

We’ve only just scratched the surface of people from Massachusetts who have made a lasting impression on the poker world. Among the others are Nick Petrangelo of Feeding Hills, Jesse Sylvia from West Tisbury, and Anthony Zinno who is originally from Rhode Island but now resides in Boston.

Online Casinos

There are only two full-fledged casinos, along with one slots parlor, within Massachusetts borders. Therefore, you might have to head online to get your fill of casino gaming if gambling in person is not convenient enough for you. There are hundreds of online casinos that accept MA residents, but we have narrowed the list down to three reputable operators:

1. Ignition Casino - Up to $1,500 Bonus ($2,000 with Bitcoin)
2. Bovada Casino - $3,000 Bonus on 3 Deposits ($3,750 with BTC)
3. Sportsbetting Casino - 100% up to $1,000 Bonus Times Three

To learn more about the top internet casinos for Americans, check out our list of the best USA-friendly online casinos.

Online Sportsbooks

Though multiple states have gotten aboard the sportsbetting train in the wake of the 2018 Murphy v. NCAA Supreme Court decision, which ruled that states had the right to legalize this form of wagering, Massachusetts is not yet one of them. That means you’ll have to go offshore if you wish to partake in sportsbook offerings from inside MA borders. In our opinion, the three best internet bookmakers that serve this state are:

1. Bovada Sports - Up to $250 in Sports Bonus ($500 BTC Bonus)

2. Sportsbetting.ag - 50% up to $1,000 Bonus and Reloads FOR LIFE
3. Intertops Sports - Intertops: Select From Three Bonus Offers

To better acquaint yourself with the sports betting scene online, head over to our recommended online bookmakers for Americans.

 

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.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to online poker in Massachusetts, there's a lot of ground to cover. Below, we've included some of the most common questions and answers about this topic

Yes, there’s nothing that makes it illegal to partake in online poker from Massachusetts. The confusing MA anti-gambling statutes have never been employed for the purpose of prosecuting internet poker players. And the federal laws don’t criminalize the act of playing online poker either; they’re all focused on punishing those providing the games.

Despite the fact that there’s no licensed Massachusetts online poker economy at present, you can still head to an offshore site and enjoy your fill of the gaming available without running afoul of the law.

Yes, you can play at PokerStars in Massachusetts, but only for play money. The company ceased offering real money poker in the United States in 2011 following the Black Friday crackdown against the industry,

Right now, there are only two states where PokerStars does business: New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This is because the company has sought and received regulatory approval from state officials to host legal online poker in these two states and in no other U.S. jurisdictions.

Given that The Pilgrim State has not yet passed any bills or set up a system for internet poker licensure within its borders, we don’t foresee PokerStars becoming a realistic option for Massachusites any time in the near future.

Yes, Ignition is active in the Massachusetts market, and it operates according to an understanding of international trade treaties whereby U.S. officials are in violation by attempting to prevent Ignition from offering its services throughout the country. The Federal government may take a different view on this matter, but this is irrelevant because Ignition happily accepts customers from Massachusetts and has no trouble paying them their winnings.

No, PartyPoker is not a valid cardroom for real money play from the Bay State. This isn’t because it’s legally prohibited in the state but rather because of the organization’s own philosophy.

You see, Party has elected to focus only on fully regulated markets and to stop servicing “gray” markets, like Massachusetts or indeed the United States as a whole. Therefore, although the enterprise could almost assuredly achieve considerable success among MA residents, it has voluntarily taken the step of avoiding the state.

Indeed, PartyPoker in New Jersey is the only site bearing this branding that is currently in existence anywhere within the 50 states. This is because New Jersey’s leaders have implemented a licensing protocol under which Party has applied for and received a license with the full blessing of that state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Yes, it’s legal for you to play poker, bet on sports, and access the casino games at Bovada from inside Massachusetts borders. As to whether or not the firm is acting in accordance with U.S. law, that is a different question, but because Bovada is based overseas, it’s pretty much outside the effective reach of law enforcement.

There's some debate as to whether or not Global Poker is legal in Massachusetts. They say they are; we have our doubts. This subject is beyond the scope of this FAQ, but you can turn to our review of Global for enlightenment on this question.

You must be 18 or older to gamble on the lottery, horse races, or charitable games. However, to enter one of the three MA brick-and-mortar casinos and play, you have to be 21 or older.

Massachusetts has not specified an age at which residents are allowed to bet online. Therefore, poker sites use 18 as their minimum age because this is the age of majority in most of the jurisdictions in which they operate.

If you are younger than this, you might be tempted to use false identity information in order to open up an account. We strongly urge you not to do this. It will produce a number of headaches when you attempt to withdraw your winnings and the site asks you for your ID. In the worst case, they might even confiscate your funds.

 


We strive to maintain this information and update it frequently with our research. However, we are not immune to making mistakes or omitting information that you, dear reader, may find of use. If you have any further questions not addressed in this guide or have noted any discrepancies or inaccuracies we urge you to contact us with your questions and concerns so that we may swiftly address them!