As with all states in America, there are specific laws and regulations that relate to the various different forms of gambling within Massachusetts. While online establishments are still generally considered banned across the entirety of the United States, gambling still exists in one form or another.

In Massachusetts, Native Tribes claim that they were playing games of chance long before the first settlers arrived. However, the state can lay claim to being one of the first to accept lottery draws, with the first State-wide draw being in 1972. One thing that does differ in Massachusetts though, is that you're unable to purchase lottery tickets online, something which a few other states have allowed.

In terms of actual casino gaming and establishments, the State of Massachusetts hasn't particularly had a flamboyant history with it – more so, a fleeting acquaintance in general. It's only been in the past five years that interest in, and demand for such games have both increased significantly. Following failed attempts in both 2008 and 2009, a new law would be introduced in 2011 to allow three licensed casinos and one slots parlour to be built. The year of 2013 would see the first licenses awarded to the Hard Rock Casinos Group and MGM International, both of which will open casinos in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

So, while casino games in land-based establishments are now accepted in a lawful and licensed way, what is the situation with online gaming? Well, for now, online casinos are still sort of banned. There isn't a specific law banning internet gambling, although the general opinion of the Massachusetts Government is that the prohibition on the use of the telephone for such gaming is enough to cover the sector. Online poker has a different level of support though, politically as well as commercially. The Gaming Commission of Massachusetts recently came out in support of regulating online poker, although judging by how long it took to establish land-based casino laws, it could be a while before anything is figured out.

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Types of Gaming Licenses Available in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, or MassGaming as it's come to be known, handles all licenses, and enforces all gaming laws within the state.

As it stands at the moment, the law allows for three casinos and a single slots parlour to be opened, and with two casinos in development and the slots parlour already opened as of June 2015, there remains a single leftover license for a casino. However, if this were not the case and zero licenses had been provided, here are the types of licenses that MassGaming provides.

There are two phases to go through when applying for a gaming license in Massachusetts. The first of these is the RFA-1 application, and this particular phase determines an applicants suitability in terms of their finances and integrity. This phase requires all gaming applicants, key employees and investors to apply for licensing. To pass this phase, each applicant, investor and key employee must complete an extensive background check MassGaming has a selection of investigative teams, all of whom have vast experience in all types of investigations, coming from backgrounds such as the FBI and accountancy.

The second phase of the application process, or RFA-2, is the applicants 'site specific' proposal. This relates to the location of the site upon which the establishment will be built, and provides the applicant with the ability to demonstrate that they have thought about creating an innovative and unique gaming site. Phase two can only be completed with the successful and satisfactory completion of five key criteria, those being:

  • Overview/General – Relating to what makes a specific applicants project unique in the industry
  • Finance – Relating to whether or not the project will meet estimated revenue projections/whether or not the applicant have suitable financing to complete the project.
  • Economic Development – Relating to how the establishment will maximise a positive impact on the area's visitor attractions
  • Building and Site Design – Relating to if the building meets requirements for energy efficiency/meet permitting requirements
  • Mitigation – Relating to such things as how the proponent intends to solve things like problem gambling, minimise the establishment's impact on the Lottery and mitigate any problems ith the host and surrounding communities

Furthermore, as mentioned, every employee at a Massachusetts gaming establishment must be licensed or registered by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission prior to commencing their duties. This is done to ensure that those involved with the gaming industry in the state meet the required criteria of good character, honesty, and integrity. This section is also split into two parts, one for Key Gaming Employee – Executive and Key Gaming Employee – Standard. The former of these relates to such job roles as Executive General Manager, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Internal Audit Officer, amongst others. The latter relates to Human Resources Manager, IT Manager, Entertainment Director, and others.

The Review Process

Once applications have been submitted to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, each members of the five evaluation teams will review each of the applicants responses to the questions asked. A summary will then be drafted up, rating the quality of each applicant's responses to each question asked, with a status of 'Insufficient', 'Sufficient', 'Very Good' or 'Outstanding/Excellent'.

Following this, each evaluation team will then compile a summary review of criteria across applicants, forming the basis for an assessment of the category across applicants, delivered to each commissioner for further review. Finally, each commissioner submits their findings in a summary evaluation, forming the basis for their decision on whether or not to award a licence.

In addition to this, several other factors will be taken into consideration, including public input, in order to track public sentiment towards a licence being awarded, and consequently, an establishment being built.

As it stands at current, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is reviewing an application by Mass Gaming & Entertainment for an establishment in region C of the state, which is expected to be finalised by early 2016.


  • Massgaming
  • 101 Federal Street, 12th Floor
  • Boston, MA 02110
  • Phone: 617.979.8400
  • Fax: 617.725.0258