Massachusetts: Land of the revolutionary radical going back to the colonial 18th century, rulers of the North American sports world since about October 20, 2004. NFLbets will keep the glorying about that Boston-based team of which nearly every football fan (even the fellow Trump supporters) is sick to death. Of course, the haters can always revel in a 20th-century history cram-packed with pathetic seasons and absolutely gut-wrenching losses.
Betting in Massachusetts
With a post-European settlement history going back to the 17th century, you can bet the history of gambling in Massachusetts is a legislative rollercoaster ride: Get your scorecards out and strap yourselves in.
Even the seemingly simple matter of a state lottery was quite contentious in Massachusetts for over 250 years. Lotteries were banned in 1719 and re-legalized in 1745 for the sole purpose of garnering funds for King George’s War, an episode within what are known as the French and Indian Wars. Lotteries were held for various purposes thereafter until 1761, when a new ban was put into place. At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1783, lotteries were again allowed in the state, with the practice staying legal until 1833. Finally, in 1972, the modern state lottery began and has been in operation ever since.
In terms of other forms of gambling in Massachusetts, pari-mutuel betting on horse- and dog-racing was legalized in 1934, but the latter was banned from the state altogether with the passage of the Massachusetts Greyhound Protection Act in 2009; just one horse track still does business in the stae, though two simulcast facilities are still open.
Finally, the casinos! Though at least two of the state’s Native American tribes have been attempting since the 1990s to bring casino gaming to Massachusetts under the Indian Gaming Regulation Act of 1988, such attempts have not yet been successful (more on this below). The state’s Expanded Gaming Act, which entered into law in 2012, allows for the establishment of three casino resorts and one slot parlor in Massachusetts. Despite three venues having received licenses, however, local lawsuits have been keeping all but the Plainridge Park Casino slots parlor from opening until at least 2018.
As for the venues set to open, 2018/19 will see the grand opening of the MGM Springfield (not the actual home of the Simpson family, but the site of the Professional Basketball Hall of Fame!) and Wynn Boston Harbor, two of the three casino resorts accounted for in the Expanding Gaming Act.
Football in Massachusetts
Massachusetts was one of the very first hotbeds for organized football, by dint of good ol’ Harvard. The Harvard Crimson first played in 1873, taking on a team from Montreal’s (!) McGill University twice in Cambridge on back-to-back days in May. For that inaugural season, then, the Crimson are forever listed as 1-0-1, with a combined score of 3-0. The Harvard-Yale rivalry game – arguably college football’s most storied rivalry – began in 1875, with Harvard winning the first meeting, 4-0; the teams have since met 133 more times.
Boston’s other great educational institutions followed suit: Boston University (now without a football program) began play in 1884, the Holy Cross Crusaders in ’91, and the Boston College Eagles in ’93.This last on the list is that most associated with Boston (and thus Massachusetts) college football, as the last Massachusetts school remaining at the FBS level.
Sadly, BC’s glory days are far behind: Since moving to the lower-level ACC, BC has advanced to the championship game just twice (2007 and ‘’08, losing both times to Virginia Tech). The Eagles have one national title to their credit: The 1940 BC Eagles, coached by Frank Leahy, capped a 10-1 season with a Sugar Bowl victory over the previously undefeated Tennessee Volunteers.
Of course, the BC team most sports fans recall are the Eagles of 1984, led by famously undersized QB Doug Flutie. After hurling a tremendous hail Mary pass to top the then-no. 1 Miami Hurricanes, Flutie was awarded the Heisman Trophy and the Eagles a Cotton Bowl bid – as a non-affiliated program, no less – which they won, 45-28, over Houston to finish the season ranked no. 5.
Thereafter, Flutie went on to compile one of the most interesting (and thorough) resumes ever put together in professional football. Among the highlights are a turn with Donald Trump’s New Jersey Generals in the USFL, six CFL Most Outstanding Player awards and three championships and an NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. And, just for fun, the last-ever play of his professional career was a dropkick field goal, the first in 65 years when done in 2006, and the only such field goal recorded in a regular-season NFL game between 1942 and 2018.
Making matters even better for Bostoners, who’d considered Flutie one of their own since The Hail Mary, that dropkick was done for the New England Patriots. The Patriots…
Wait. Before we get into an endless litany of winning, punctuated by a coupla fluky plays by the New York Giants, let’s talk about professional football in Massachusetts in the days B.B. (that’s Before whichever one of the damn GOATs you wish to credit more). In summary, Boston (and, again, therefore Massachusetts) was simply never taken seriously as an NFL market until maybe the 1990s.
Even back in the NFL’s, likesay, experimental phase of the 1920s when teams in New York and Ohio were created for seemingly every town, Boston would only get a franchise in ’29, after the famous Pottsville Maroons became financially unviable in their blue-collar hometown. The Boston Bulldogs lasted just one season, going 4-4 and instantly forgotten. The NFL tried again in the 40s, but the Boston Yanks (not *Yankees*, apparently, just “Yanks”) managed an awful 14-38-3 mark between 1944 and ’48.
Pro football only came back to Massachusetts with the formation of the American Football League in 1960. The Boston Patriots made the AFL championship game following the ’63 season but got smoked by the San Diego Chargers, 51-10. They wouldn’t sniff a championship game until the 80s – 1986, to be precise: The by-now more marketable New England Patriots snuck into Super Bowl XX, only to be demolished by the legendary ‘’85 Chicago Bears. Those Roman numerals ultimately stood not for 20, but rather for the Xs over the eyes of QB Tony Eason. Eason went a famously bad 0-for-6 on pass attempts for zero yards and one fumble.
The Patriots’ subsequent Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl XXXI wasn’t quite as disastrous, but was nearly as emphatic a loss. After taking a 14-10 first quarter lead, the Patriots were subsequently outscored 25-7 as Drew Bledsoe threw four interceptions in the final three quarters of play.
For the NFL bettor, the Patriots first became money-making heroes in a big way in Super Bowl XXXV. Going in as 17-point underdogs, the Bill Belichick-coached, Tom Brady-QBed Patriots snuck out the 20-17 victory, perhaps due to assistance from, likesay, not strictly allowed practices. And you know the rest. NFLbets suspects, however, that the tyrannical reign of this lot is over, with the Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles the last gasp of the once-terrifying dynastic Patriots.
Betting on football in Massachusetts
We’ve delineated some brief examples of the back-and-forth complexity of lawmaking vis-à-vis betting games in Massachusetts above. The situation with daily fantasy sports was also dealt with in such a manner, but well more rapidly.
In early 2016, state attorney general Maura Healey released a list of requirements that any DFS-providing website would have to meet. According to ABC News online, “Among other things, the regulations ban players under the age of 21, mandate player funds be segregated from operating funds and require sites to offer beginner-only games. In addition, no fantasy contests can be based on athlete performances in college or high school sports.”
These regulations are now law, as then-governor Charlie Baker signed the related bill into law later in 2016. The process – and willingness of legislators to decriminalize football betting online – would seem to indicate that Massachusetts may take such a liberal-yet-thorough approach to regulating betting on football and other sports in the short- to medium-term future.