Massachusetts: Exploring Online Gambling Legalization

Massachusetts: Exploring Online Gambling Legalization

Massachusetts has indicated interest in looking at the legalization and regulation of online gambling as an attractive opportunity for the expansion of its gambling industry.

A special commission has been set up and will be charged with the responsible task to carry out a comprehensive review on “economic development, consumer protection, taxation, legal and regulatory structures” and other important matters that are usually related to the introduction of new laws. Online gambling and daily fantasy sports will be the commission’s main topics of interest.

Sen. Donoghue has told media that commission members will meet every 4-6 weeks to discuss matters to be included in their research. They plan to complete their study by the end of July 2017. Each commission member was requested to compile a list of important topics and to send it to Sen. Donoghue and Rep. Wagner.

Sen. Eileen Donoghue and Rep. Joseph Wagner have been appointed to lead the newly created body, formally referred to as a Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming, and Daily Fantasy Sports. The commission was established as a result from the approval of a bill that legalized fantasy contests in the state. Adopted in this summer, the law is set to expire on July 31, 2018. This means that if no further adequate actions towards the creation of an effective regulatory framework are taken until then, the state may have to wait for a little (or not so little) longer before seeing legalized and regulated iGaming and daily fantasy sports industries.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman – Stephen Crosby, has also been appointed as a member of the specially created research commission. Mr. Crosby has been a long-standing proponent of the legalization of online poker and daily fantasy sports in the state and will likely support an omnibus bill that would open the local gambling market for the above-mentioned operations.

Although commissioners will be looking into opportunities for the legalization of online gambling, Internet lottery operations will certainly not be among the issues it will try to tackle. That topic is expected to be discussed separately next year.

Peter Schoenke, Chairman of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, House Representatives, and legal counsels have also become part of the newly created commission.

Lottery officials have been pushing for legislative authorization to start offering lottery products online and on mobile for some time now. A new legislation on the matter is likely to be introduced during the next legislative session.

Online gambling is currently legal in three US states – Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. The Pennsylvania Senate may vote on a bill that calls for the legalization of iGaming on November 16, when lawmakers are set to reconvene for last-minute legislative decisions.

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