In 2022, Massachusetts joined a number of other US states to legalize sport betting starting on March 10, 2023. As online sportsbooks prepare to launch their services to fans around the state, now is an important time to understand more about what sports betting is and how to enjoy it responsibly.
Sports Betting 101
Any time people place wagers on what will happen during a sports event, that is sports betting. Lots of fans might bet on sports in a casual way: wagering small amounts of money with friends and family on the outcome of a game. However, many people take sports betting a lot more seriously. The global sports betting market brings in around 83.6 billion dollars in revenue every year, and this figure is only expected to grow.
For a long time, the US contributed very little to that figure. Sports betting was illegal in most US states until 2018, when the Supreme Court ruled that states should have the option to legalize sports betting and determine its regulation within their own borders. Around 30 US states now offer some kind of legal sports betting.
The Law in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is one state which has opted to legalize sports betting in order to give fans an above-the-table means of placing bets. As of spring 2023, a number of online sports betting sites will go live; and fans can also bet on their favorite teams at some casinos. Keep in mind that, similar to age restrictions at Massachusetts casinos, you need to be 21 years or older to legally participate in any form of sports betting in the state.
Like many states, Massachusetts will tax sports betting revenue. Bets placed in person will be subject to a 15% tax on gains, while mobile bets will see a 20% tax rate. It’s estimated that the arrival of legal sports betting in Massachusetts will contribute around $60 million to the state’s economy annually.
Being a Responsible Sports Better
Gambling addiction is a serious problem. It can wreak havoc on your finances, work, relationships and personal life.
Because sports betting is centered around athletics, it’s tempting to adopt a mindset that betting on sports games is more fun and casual, and less harmful, than other forms of betting. In reality, sports betting is a form of gambling. Any time you’re placing bets, it’s important to be safe and responsible.
Here are a few financial best practices if you plan on engaging in sports betting:
- Evaluate Your Habits: The National Council on Problem Gambling offers a self-screening tool to help you understand if your gambling habits might be a problem. Go online and take the quiz if you’re concerned.
- Set Limits: Before you start betting, decide exactly how much money you will spend. Write this figure on a piece of paper, and say it aloud to friends. Many sportsbooks apps also allow users to set a limit before they start betting—so take advantage of this function.
- Learn the System: Understanding more about the odds of gambling can help you to set an appropriate risk tolerance. Keep in mind that while it might feel like you’re on a “winning streak”, the house almost always has an edge.
- Take Time Off: If sports betting is the first thing you think about when waking up, and the last thing you think about before falling asleep, that’s a sign that your hobby is getting out of hand. Balance your time between interests, and be wary of how many hours are spent gambling.
- Find Responsible Friends: Rather than betting alone, engaging in sports betting with friends might be a good way to keep the hobby lighthearted and responsible. At the same time, if you do have friends who engage in irresponsible betting practices—distance yourself immediately.
- Choose to Exclude: As soon as you suspect a gambling problem, add yourself to the self-excluded persons list. Operators use this list to prohibit certain individuals from placing bets. Nobody else will know you’re on the list.
Gambling Support Resources
Massachusetts offers support to individuals impacted by gambling problem. Visit https://gamblinghelplinema.org or call 1-800-327-5050 to speak with a trained Specialist 24/7. Services are free, confidential and available in multiple languages.
Additional resources are available at https://www.mass.gov/.