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Off-track betting in Massachusetts

Learn more about off-track betting facilities in Massachusetts and what types of betting are available at the venues.

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With no thoroughbred racing tracks in the commonwealth, off-track betting is the go-to option for Massachusetts horse race gambling enthusiasts. In this piece, we’ll take a look at what off-track betting locations are in operation in MA, how to place a wager at the venue, and expert tips ahead of your next visit.

Off-track betting locations in Massachusetts


Below is a list of the off-track betting locations in Massachusetts. These venues all offer simulcast racing as a means of allowing gamblers to wager on the races without having to travel to the tracks.

OTB

Address

Plainridge Park Casino *

301 Washington St Plainville, MA 02762

Raynham Park

1958 Broadway, Raynham, MA 02767

Suffolk Downs

525 McClellan Hwy, Boston MA, 02128

* Plainridge Park Casino offers live harness racing from April through November. Simulcast racing is available daily but it is not a 24/7 option.

What is off-track betting and how does it work?

Off-track betting (often shortened to “OTB”) is all gambling activity pertaining to racing that is conducted away from the racecourse grounds. A percentage of the funds wagered at OTB facilities is included with the purses for winning horses across races, but most OTBs are at least 60 miles from a racetrack (for a while, this distance mandate was federal law).

Prior to the 1970s, the only OTB facilities in the U.S. were located in Nevada, but the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978 made the practice easier. This is because as a result of the Act, states cooperated to establish a level playing field rather than competing with one another for revenue.

Off-track betting courses also invented exotic wagers like the exacta and trifecta, leading to an even bigger surge in racing-related revenues.

Beyond simulcast racing, some OTBs will offer historic horse racing (HHR) machines, helping to keep money moving outside of peak racing season.

How could I place a wager at OTB locations in Massachusetts?

You could place a wager at OTB locations in Massachusetts by following these steps:

  1. Study the races: You should always go into a race well-informed and well-prepared so you don’t blow your money on bad bets and miss out on betting value for winning wagers. The more information you can gather in advance, the better.
  2. Make a plan and write it down: Depending on the number of races, horses, and bet types you’re choosing to play, it may be beneficial to write down the details so you aren't confusing numbers at the betting window. Writing things down can also be useful if you are wagering varying amounts on your bets to help reinforce responsible gambling habits and keep you from betting beyond your means.
  3. Travel to the OTB: With three OTB venues in the state, your list of options is slightly limited, though it could be worse. You could be stuck with online-only options, as is the case in several other states!
  4. Approach the counter/kiosk and place your bets: When approaching the counter to make your bet, have your money ready and your bets in order, especially if you’re close to post time. There will often be a flurry of wagers and attempted wagers shortly before bets are closed. Efficiency will be key.
  5. Watch the races, and hopefully collect your winnings: In addition to simulcast racing, you may also be able to relax a bit at a bar or restaurant while waiting for race results. When the races are run and the results finalized, bring any winning slips back to the cashier to collect your payout.

Expert advice when off-track betting in Massachusetts

In consulting with our horse race betting experts, they offered this advice when off-track betting in Massachusetts.

  • Don’t hold up the line: The closer a race gets to post time, the more action there will be around the kiosks and cashiers. If you aren’t wagering on the race that is closing, stay out of the way of those who are. When you do get to the window, make your wagers quickly and confidently.
  • Know what to say: When wagering at an OTB facility, you will need to know the course name, race number, saddlecloth number of the horse(s) you’re backing, the amount you’re wagering, and the type of bet you’re placing. An example of how to declare your bet at the window would be “Belmont Stakes, Race One, I’d like to wager $2 on the No. 5 horse.”
  • Trust your gut: Assuming you’ve thoroughly researched the races, horses, and their trainers and jockeys, the wagers you’re prepared to make should be ones you’re confident playing. Don’t make wagers you’re uncomfortable with even if you’re hearing rumors, rumblings, and betting insights from others at the OTB.
  • Tell someone you trust about your betting plans: Finally, we strongly encourage you to share the details about how much you’re betting and how often you’re gambling with someone you trust. This transparency and accountability will help keep you from developing a gambling compulsion as they can help you stay on top of how much time and money you’re spending on betting activities.