sportsbooks in Massachusetts are set to open their doors on Tuesday morning, with a mobile launch planned for early March.
The Bay State is a late arriver to the legal U.S. sports betting landscape, but it’s expected to make a big splash. That splash will likely have significant ramifications for neighboring states that have benefited from Massachusetts’ fashionably late entrance.
New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and to a lesser extent, New York are drawing bettors from Massachusetts. Not only will that change when mobile betting appears in the Bay State, but structural deficiencies could cause the door to swing the other way. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut residents might be tempted to make the short trip across the Massachusetts border to place wagers.
A Shared Problem
Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut are closed markets, with online sports betting monopolies in those states possessing just three mobile brands.
The good news is that most of the brands available are top performers nationally:
- Rhode Island – Sportsbook RI (through the RI Lottery in partnership with IGT)
- New Hampshire – DraftKings
- Connecticut – FanDuel, DraftKings, and Play Sugarhouse (through the CT Lottery)
By comparison, Massachusetts has approved 11 mobile sportsbook brands:
- Bally Bet
- Barstool Sportsbook
Bonus Code: GAMBLINGCOM” data-brand_id=”129″ data-brand_product_id=”898″ data-offer_id=”8730″ data-site_offer_id=”17731″ data-gtm=”pagetext BetMGM” >BetMGM
- $250 Risk-Free Bet on the NFL” data-brand_id=”1096″ data-brand_product_id=”1338″ data-offer_id=”9250″ data-site_offer_id=”18893″ data-gtm=”pagetext Betway US” >Betway
- $1,250 on Caesars
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- $5, Get $200 in Free Bets Instantly” data-brand_id=”357″ data-brand_product_id=”767″ data-offer_id=”7761″ data-site_offer_id=”8095″ data-gtm=”pagetext DraftKings” >DraftKings
- $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets on Thursday Night Football” data-brand_id=”393″ data-brand_product_id=”832″ data-offer_id=”8631″ data-site_offer_id=”17548″ data-gtm=”pagetext FanDuel” >FanDuel
- 5 X $100 Second Chance Bets on NFL” data-brand_id=”702″ data-brand_product_id=”671″ data-offer_id=”8008″ data-site_offer_id=”17231″ data-gtm=”pagetext PointsBet” >PointsBet
And those Massachusetts brands are expected to advertise heavily as they compete for market share.
That advertising will cross New England borders, as the media markets heavily overlap. That means Massachusetts residents will cease crossing the border to bet, and New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut residents might be enticed to head to the Bay State to place bets.
Rhode Island has greatly benefitted from Massachusetts dragging its feet to legalize sports betting. Roughly one million Massachusetts residents are a 20-30-minute drive from the Rhode Island border, and most of the state’s population is no more than an hour’s drive.
According to the Rhode Island Lottery, 25% of registered mobile accounts use a Massachusetts address. While registered accounts do not equal active bettors, it’s safe to assume that Massachusetts residents that went through the trouble of registering a Rhode Island sports betting account (especially pre-August 2020 when there was an in-person registration component) are more likely to be active users.
One thing working in Rhode Island’s favor is the legal sports betting age is 18, whereas it is 21 in Massachusetts. Setting aside the responsible gaming concerns of 18+ wagering, this policy difference will likely keep a steady flow of (young) Massachusetts bettors heading to Rhode Island.
Working against the Ocean State is its lack of competition. With just a single mobile betting brand, Rhode Islanders may cross the Massachusetts border to take advantage of up to 11 different deposit bonuses that are likely to be offered by Massachusetts’ sportsbooks.
There is no official data on the amount Massachusetts residents are betting in New Hampshire. Still, DraftKings has gone on record that 30% of its 2022 Super Bowl and March Madness handle was from Bay Staters. The events’ magnitude likely inflates the number of Massachusetts bettors using Granite State sportsbooks, but it’s reasonable to assume that 20% of New Hampshire sports betting accounts are Massachusetts residents.
However, unlike Rhode Island, Massachusetts is less populated near the New Hampshire border.
“Mobile, I would anticipate us taking a small hit,” Charles McIntyre told the Vermont Sports Betting Study Committee. According to McIntyre, geolocation technology shows a lot of wagers coming in from border areas.
That said, Massachusetts residents have been crossing the New Hampshire border long before sports betting, thanks to the state’s discounted liquor prices. Director McIntyre told a UNH panel that Massachusetts residents come over the border to buy liquor and have also been placing bets. “We have a lot of activity at the Mapp of New Hampshire and at the state liquor stores,” McIntyre said.
The question is, will they start placing those bets at home?
And just like Rhode Island, will New Hampshire residents cross the border to use Massachusetts sportsbooks? DraftKings has a monopoly in New Hampshire, and Granite State residents might be enticed with welcome bonuses from one of the 11-plus Massachusetts mobile sportsbooks.
Connecticut has a very long border with Massachusetts, but the only population center of any size along that border is the city of Springfield (150,000 residents).
But unlike New Hampshire and Rhode Island, there isn’t much on the Connecticut side of the border (until you get Hartford) that attracts Massachusetts residents. That makes it less likely that Massachusetts sportsbooks will attract Connecticut bettors across the border, apart from bonus hunters who will eventually choose the convenience of betting from home once the bonus money is exhausted.
As such, Connecticut will be less affected by the launch of Massachusetts mobile betting since the state is almost certainly pulling fewer Massachusetts residents across the border to place bets.
If the Connecticut-Massachusetts border is sparsely populated, the New York-Massachusetts border is a barren wasteland.
The amount of cross-border traffic for sports betting purposes is negligible, and little will change when Massachusetts sportsbooks go live.
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