Jan 30, 2023 - Sports

Sports betting in Massachusetts, explained

A handful of kiosks appear in front of Encore's sports restaurant, On Deck, and are roped off and not operational until the state's sports betting launch on Jan. 31.

Encore stationed a handful of its kiosks in front of its sports restaurant, On Deck. These kiosks are offline when there’s an event at the nightclub across the hall. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios

Tomorrow's in-person sports betting launch couldn’t come soon enough for countless Boston sports fans and underground bettors. If you can’t tell the difference between a point spread and a moneyline, here’s what to know.

Why it matters: Boston is a major sports city and, by some accounts, a hotspot for underground wagering.

What makes a bet

A popular bet will likely be on the Celtics reaching and winning the NBA finals, WynnBET vice president of trading Alan Berg tells Axios. That’s an example of a "futures" bet.

  • There are also "moneyline" bets, or bets on the outcome of a game like the Celtics vs. Nets game on Wednesday.
  • A "point spread" bet lets you bet on the margin of victory or loss, or on other factors. More on that here.

Sportsbooks assign a negative value to the likely winner, or "favorite," and a positive value to the "underdog."

Of note: Encore lets customers bet anywhere from $10 to $1,000 on certain games.

  • The casino places a $300 limit on players who aren’t Wynn Resorts members.
A room in Encore's parking lot has kiosks inside and is called the "WynnBET express sportsbook." It's currently roped off until the Jan. 31 in-person sports betting launch.
Encore’s express sportsbook station is in a parking lot, where customers can “park and play” to make a quick wager and leave. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios

What to bet on

Massachusetts accepts wagers on a variety of events, from pro sports to the Oscars.

  • Perhaps the most popular sports games for betting are pro football and college basketball, but you can also bet on hockey, baseball, MMA, golf, sailing and a bunch of other sports, per the state’s catalog.

What to expect

Some people place a bet before watching a game with their friends. Others submit a dozen wagers to the betting window or kiosk.

For novices, Berg of WynnBET suggests starting small, maybe with a $10 or $50 bet to practice.

He also recommends using WynnBET's Bring Your Own Device website to prep a bet and create a QR code that you can plug into a kiosk to speed up the in-person process.

  • That option lets you research the odds and the level of risk without holding up the line.

Pro tip: One resource for newbies is Encore’s promotions room on the second floor. Workers there will show customers how to place bets, what terms to know and how to read the odds.


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