Massachusetts Online Poker
While nearby New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware have legalized online poker, the Bay State remains a holdout. Still, Massachusetts has a vibrant home poker scene, which is legal, plus two traditional Vegas-style casinos with excellent poker rooms.
While it is yet to legalize online poker, there’s a deep poker history in Massachusetts and quite a card-playing culture. Massachusetts has been the home of several poker pros including Daniel Colman, Anthony Zinno, Nick Petrangelo and Brian Altman. Dan Harrington, winner of the 1995 World Series of Poker Main Event and popular poker author, is also a native of MA.
On this page we’ll show you everything you need to know about online poker in Massachusetts. While there isn’t a traditional online poker option yet, there are still ways to get some real-money or free poker hands in.
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Sweepstakes Poker in Massachusetts
While traditional real money online poker isn’t yet legal in Massachusetts, there are a few options for poker games online. The easiest option might be sweepstakes poker. This online social gaming option features a unique platform that’s legal to players in all US states (except Washington) and Canada (except Quebec).
The biggest and most well known of these is Global Poker. Like many social poker platforms, players can use the free-to-play poker option to get started. Players can jump in ring games, sit & go’s, and tournaments using a free currency called Gold Coins (GC).
You can win Gold Coins in your games, obviously, but if you want to add even more Gold Coins to your account you can buy them. Those who buy some Gold Coins earn bonus sweepstakes currency called Sweeps Coins (SC).
Unlike Gold Coins, these Sweeps Coins can be redeemed for cash prizes and gift cards. Buying Gold Coins and receiving those Sweeps Coins is a fast and easy process as is redeeming Sweeps Coins.
Global has grown considerably since launching in North America in 2016. The site, as well as sister sweeps casino sites Chumba Casino and Luckyland Slots, is owned by VGW Holdings Limited. This is an Australia-based company that is licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority.
Global offers a safe and secure online poker alternative. The social gaming aspects, unique avatars, and interesting game options make for some fun opportunities to hit the tables. Players will find Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Crazy Pineapple action. That includes:
- Ring games
- Sit and Go’s
- Jackpot Sit and Go’s
Global Poker also hosts major tournament series and saw greatly expanded player and prize pools in 2020. The upward tilt is expected to continue well into the next couple of years.
Is online poker legal in Massachusetts?
The answer to that question in terms of traditional, regulated online poker, as seen in other states, is no. As of October 2020 only New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Delaware had live, legal, and regulated online poker.
Online poker looked to be possible in 2019 when a bill circulated through the Massachusetts Legislature. Rep. Bradford Hill proposed a bill in January 2019 that would have legalized real money online casino gaming (including poker), daily fantasy sports, and sports betting. That failed to get any traction and the bill went nowhere.
Many poker players hoped that would change soon, but as of October 2020 there had been no legislation passed. Poker fans will have to wait and see if that can change in the coming years. In the meantime, sweepstakes sites like Global Poker remain the best viable option.
Beyond that, with so much action going on with online poker in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, a quick weekend trip can offer an opportunity to play online.
Playing Online Poker from Massachusetts
If you don’t go the sweepstakes poker route, you can always travel to a nearby legal state to play online on a legal and regulated poker site. You are NOT required to be a resident of any licensed state to play poker online there – you simply need to be of legal age and within that state’s official borders.
You can also create and manage your poker account from out of state. That includes claiming any no deposit poker bonus or cashing out any balance in your account after returning home.
In New Jersey, legal and licensed online poker sites include:
- WSOP.com (and software partner 888poker)
- partypoker US Network (including the BetMGM online poker and Borgata Poker skins)
PokerStars remained the only option for online poker in Pennsylvania as of October 2020 but is seeing rising numbers during the pandemic. 888poker is the exclusive provider of online poker in Delaware through partnerships with the state’s three racetrack casinos.
Two other states legalized online poker and other forms of iGaming in 2019 – Michigan and West Virginia. Real money poker sites have yet to give in either state so far.
How to Play Free Online Poker in Massachusetts
While real money online poker isn’t legal yet in Massachusetts, most major poker brands still offer some form of “free play” option either online or via their poker app. Many of these are found at the companies’ .NET domain.
Players in Massachusetts (or any state) can download the software or app and work on their poker skills at the play-money tables in both “cash” games or tournaments. PokerStars, partypoker, WSOP.com, and others offer this option.
Global Poker also offers this option with Gold Coins. This currency is free and can offer some big events with hundreds of players. While players at Global can’t redeem Gold Coins for cash prizes, Global’s major tournament series offer both SC and GC events. Players in the GC events still often have the opportunity to win trophies and prizes.
Casino & Online Poker Brands in Massachusetts
There are no casino/online operator partnerships in Massachusetts yet as seen in other legalized states. Should that happen, partypoker US Network might be a likely company to quickly move into the state.
MGM Resorts owns the MGM Springfield casino. The company partners with partypoker in New Jersey and would likely see Massachusetts as an opportunity. Partypoker has made expansion a key goal.
As of October 2020, partypoker had yet to receive the go-ahead in Pennsylvania but looked to add the Keystone State. Another state in that network is certainly on the company’s agenda.
While it may only have just shy of 7 million people, Massachusetts offers an opportunity for poker brands hoping to expand any possible interstate compacts. As of 2020, that issue remained in federal court as the Department of Justice argued the law applied to more than just sports betting.
The gaming industry won the first round in court, but the issue remained in appeals as of October 2020. A positive ruling for the gaming industry would keep interstate compacts legal.
WSOP.com/888poker currently offer the only legal, inter-state online poker player pools and thus remain the country’s top online poker site. The Nevada-New Jersey-Delaware shared liquidity market produces the highest revenues of any operator.
Sites like WSOP.com, 888, and PokerStars would probably see Massachusetts as a nice addition to any of those compacts.
Which poker sites are illegal in Massachusetts?
Offshore poker sites may offer action to American players, but aren’t legal under various US and state laws. Playing at these sites can be a risky proposition.
They don’t face the oversight, regulation, monitoring and scrutiny that legal US poker sites do. These also may not be regulated by any governing body in any country and, if they are, those regulating bodies may not have the transparency and thoroughness of what might be seen in the US.
Players have been known to lose their funds when some of these operations fold. Others report extremely slow payouts when they do make withdrawals or sketchy software functions as well.
You’re better served playing at legal and regulated poker sites at all times. Global Poker is also a safe option.
Online Poker Bonus(es) in Massachusetts
While no traditional online poker option is available yet, when they do enter the state players will find numerous bonus opportunities. Some of those include:
- No deposit bonuses – free credit for play in real money games for just creating a new account.
- Deposit bonuses – These can total hundreds of dollars depending on your deposit. Sites often match a player’s initial deposit to fund an account.
- Reload bonuses – These are often available anytime you add money to your poker account.
All of these can offer a quick way to boost your bankroll. USPoker offers exclusive bonus deals for players in current legalized states. Players in Massachusetts can currently take advantage of the deposit bonus at Global Poker as well.
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Online Poker with Friends in Massachusetts
Many players used to betting and bluffing against friends at their regular home game were out of luck during the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020. However, many found another option – taking their home games online. Players at PokerStars.net can create their own Poker Clubs. The options in each club are numerous and allow for considerable customization.
To get started, simply set up an account and navigate to the player lobby. Click on the three buttons at the bottom right side of the lobby for more options. You’ll then see “Home Games” listed to begin creating your club.
You can then name your club and create an invitation code for all your friends. Players can use this to join your club for the next tournament or cash game you schedule. PokerStars makes it easy to invite friends by emailing you an invitation that can be sent to others. As club manager, however, you have to approve all those who then try to join.
Beyond the club name, you can also personalize with different colors and images as well as take advantage of numerous customization options for tournaments and cash games – from stakes and blind levels to games played. Beyond Texas Hold’em, other options include Omaha, Seven Card Stud, Badugi, and more. Club managers can also:
- Post announcements
- Create leaderboards
- Keep track of event results
Read more on our dedicated page here:
Global Poker doesn’t have a home games option but you can play Gold Coin or Sweeps Cash games with your friends by syncing up a time to meet at a certain table.
Massachusetts Live Poker Rooms
While Massachusetts may not have the selection of New Jersey and Nevada, there are a few options both within the state as well as over the border. The state offers three legal poker casinos. Here’s a look at those and what to expect.
This high-end luxury property features 23 tables in a nice environment. MGM is known for offering nice poker options and that includes Springfield. The property was set to become a regular stop on the East Coast Poker Tour before the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the room remained closed as of October 2020 because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Encore Boston Harbor
This property brings everything someone might expect from a Wynn-owned casino resort. That includes a 74-table poker room with regular promotions and cash games. New England players can expect well-apportioned surroundings and a nice vibe. This property also remained closed as of October 2020 because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Plainridge Park Casino – no poker room
Players in Massachusetts have some other options if they want to cross the border into nearby states.
New Hampshire – Chaser’s Poker Room in Salem receives nice reviews and has 13 tables. Boston Billiard Club and Casino offers 18 tables of action. There are also several other options that can be found with short trips into the Granite State.
Connecticut – Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun are huge casinos with exceptional poker scenes. You can’t go wrong with a visit to one of these massive and well-appointed rooms. The Foxwoods features 114 tables and Mohegan Sun has 33.
Rhode Island – The state’s Twin River Casino in Lincoln offers 18 tables of cash game and tournament action.
Massachusetts Online Poker FAQ
When will it be legal to play online poker in Massachusetts?
That remains to be seen. After some brief legislative efforts in 2019, many players hoped online gaming including poker would be legalized in 2020. As of October 2020, that hadn’t happened.
Hopes are high with more momentum and some efforts to legalize sports betting, online gaming might also be included. That remains to be seen. In the meantime, sweepstakes poker such as Global Poker remains the best online option for players in Massachusetts.
Can I play on PokerStars in Massachusetts?
While PokerStars may be the biggest online poker operator in the world, the site can’t offer games to players where online poker isn’t legal. However, the company does offer poker in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where Stars offers “ringed-in” games – meaning players only pool with other players in their own state.
The hope in the industry is that interstate compacts could include all legalized, regulated states once the issues surrounding the Wire Act and whether it pertains to online gaming are complete.
What happens if I use a VPN to play from a legal state?
Offshore, unregulated sites are illegal per various federal and state laws. Playing these sites can also be risky in terms of player funds and personal information. They don’t follow the same laws and regulations that sites in legalized US states do.
Players take a risk using these sites and the loss of funds and slow payouts are frequent complaints by those who do. Some of these operators have been known to shutter their business with player funds not returned. American regulated sites must follow laws making sure player funds and information are secure.
Where do Massachusetts poker pros play online poker?
With no major real money player pools available, Massachusetts poker players may travel to Canada to play on major international sites like PokerStars, GGPoker, partypoker, Unibet, 888poker, and others. They can also travel to New Jersey to play at PokerStars NJ, partypoker US Network, and WSOP.com/888poker US. These are the only legal options until the state begins legalizing and regulating online gaming.