A Special Commission On Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming And Daily Fantasy Sports instituted in the state of Massachusetts is on the verge of recommending a sweeping approach to regulating the online gaming industry. The nine-member commission was instituted last year to study whether the state could sustain an iGaming industry. It had its latest meeting earlier this week in order to discuss the opinions held by its members on a number of issues regarding the industry that have been discussed in public so far.
What the Massachusetts Members of the Commission Indicate?
The members of the commission have indicated that they are in favour of an omnibus approach to make online gambling legal. In other words, the commission members are of the opinion that online casino games and poker have to be legalized. This will enable residents of the state to enjoy these games in a safe and regulated environment, simultaneously contributing to the state’s coffers, without having to visit offshore sites.
In the Words of Stephen Crosby…
As a matter of fact, the state’s Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby had first recommended this approach because of the flexibility that it would give the commission to put together a regulatory framework for the existing games and also the new ones that would be introduced in the future.
Mr. Crosby elaborated on the issue saying that Massachusetts lawmakers had the responsibility to decide whether or not the state could have legal online gambling. Given that they seem inclined to legalize the industry, it is their job to devise a framework of laws that will cover existing as well as future requirements. He stressed the point that it would be best for lawmakers to consider this issue proactively.
In the Words of Bruce Tarr…
This view is shared by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr who is also the sponsor of an online gambling bill that is still up for discussion. This was stated by commission member Hirak Shah who was appointed by Senator Tarr to the commission. Senator Jennifer Flanagan, a long time supporter of legalized online gambling in the state also agrees with the omnibus approach.
What to Expect Next?
The members of the commission have up till June 16th to submit their separate recommendations on the subject. This will be followed by a public hearing in which the commission will review the draft of its recommendations. Finally, the commission, co-chaired by Joseph Wagner and Eileen Donoghue will submit its report to the legislature. July 31st is the last day by which the report has to be submitted in which the commission will offer its recommendations for further actions, if necessary.
Unfortunately, this deadline will not give lawmakers enough time to pass any laws on online gambling in 2017. However, this doesn’t mean that the state has no chance at all of getting it online gambling industry off the ground. In fact, the viewpoints articulated by these people indicate that the law could become a reality within a shorter time than anticipated. Lawmakers haven’t been able to arrive at a consensus regarding online gambling so far, with the result that an iGaming bill that was introduced earlier in the year has been languishing without much support.
One of the biggest reasons for the lack of support to iGaming is that Massachusetts’ land-based gambling industry is in its infancy. Many lawmakers share the opinion that the industry requires protection from its online counterpart which might draw customers away from it. These fears might actually be unfounded as the example from New Jersey shows where the flagging fortunes of the land based gambling industry has actually benefited from the online one. It might be only a matter of time before Massachusetts gets its iGaming industry.