The Next Wave Of Online Casino Legalization Is Happening In New England

Date IconLast Updated : Jun 15th, 2023
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The Next Wave Of Online Casino Legalization Is Happening In New England
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With sports betting legal in most of the country, attention has turned to best online casinos. But online casinos face stiffer resistance than sports betting, evidenced by online gambling being legal in just seven states, with very few near-term prospects. 

To say online casino needs a win or two to gain momentum is an understatement, and the next spate of legalization could begin in New England. 

Mobile sports betting is legal in five of the six New England States, and the sixth, Vermont, is on the verge of joining the club. 

The region is the most competitive online sports betting market in the country. That competition will heat up going forward, which is good news for online casino supporters. 

New England Geography Forces Competition

The six New England states are jammed into a small geographical area. Consider that Missouri is roughly the same size as New England, and Montana is twice the size of New England. That means New Englanders are used to crossing borders, particularly for products and services unavailable in their home state. Put another way, many Massachusetts residents can drive to at least four other states within an hour.

And even though Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine are sparsely populated, the total population of New England is nearly 15 million, which would rank New England fifth in population if it were a single state. 

The bottom line is there are lots of borders, and many people live near these borders in New England. And that means a lot of competition to keep residents’ dollars in-state or, conversely, persuade them to spend their money across state lines.

Keeping Up with the Joneses 

The revenue leaking over its borders was a big part of Massachusetts sports betting getting across the finish line. 

“There are a lot of people who literally just drive out of Massachusetts so that they can bet on sports, and it’s happening all over the country,” Former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said in 2022. 

You don’t have to take Baker’s word for it either, as 25% of 2022 Super Bowl bets in New Hampshire were placed by Massachusetts residents. And According to the Rhode Island Lottery, 25% of registered mobile accounts use a Massachusetts address. 

Likewise, when Connecticut explored legalizing sports betting, supporters argued that Nutmeg State residents were heading to Rhode Island to place bets.

The anti-gambling crowd wasn't the most upset when Massachusetts legalized and launched mobile sports betting. It was neighboring Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Bally’s Senior Vice President of Rhode Island Operations, Craig Eaton, told ABC6 that sports betting revenue is down 20% since Massachusetts’ mobile betting launch.  

The Next Frontier: Online Casino

Only one New England state currently offers online casino gambling, Connecticut. Unsurprisingly, with every state on the sports betting bandwagon, New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island are all considering online casino expansion. And any of those states joining Connecticut will apply pressure on all of New England. 

New Hampshire has an active online casino bill. The measure is facing some pushback from existing charity casinos in the Granite State, but it has a legitimate chance to pass this year or next. 

Maine introduced a bill during the current special session that would legalize online casino gambling under the same model the state used to legalize sports betting last year. Although its chief regulator Milton Champion said on LinkedIn, “This one is going to take some work....”

Rhode Island appears to be having backroom discussions, as Bally’s Eaton told ABC6 online casino gambling, which Eaton called a “gamechanger,” is on the table. “That is an offering that will be explored, and the general assembly will be looking at that,” with a new initiative to be proposed in the near future.

And you can be confident that Massachusetts will join the fray if several neighboring states are in the online casino business. Like sports betting, you can force Massachusetts’ hand by surrounding it with legal online casino states.