The state of Massachusetts legalized casino gambling only a few years ago and its first brick & mortar casino, the Plainridge Park casino opened only in 2015. MGM Resort is scheduled to open its $950 million MGM Springfield facility in June 2018 and Wynn Resorts will open its Wynn Boston Harbor casino early 2019.
Gambling Expands In Massachusetts
Just as the brick & mortar casino facility increases its presence in Massachusetts, legislators are contemplating whether to legalize online gambling in the state. There are currently only three states in America which allow online gambling – Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. There are as many as ten states who have been debating for the last 2 years, the possibility of lifting the online gambling ban but so far no state has made a final decision on the matter.
The Massachusetts state government is looking at create new industries that boost the state’s economy, create employment opportunities and generate additional tax revenue for the state which will be of great benefit to the state budget. The introduction of the brick & mortar casino industry provided this impetus to Massachusetts as gaming operators were willing to invest millions of dollars to secure a casino license and develop a casino resort. Legislators believe that the online gambling industry has the potential to also generate significant revenue for the state.
Special Commission
In 2016, legislators decided to create a special ‘Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming, and Daily Fantasy Sports’ commission who would be responsible for carrying out research to see the state could support online gambling and if it would be a profitable venture. The commission was given a July 31, 2017 deadline to present their report and confirm if the state should consider the legalization of online gambling or drop the idea.
The fact that state legislators were considering the idea of legalizing online gambling did not go down well with the land based casino operators who were concerned that online gambling would eat into their revenue, especially because some of them were yet to launch operations and establish themselves in Massachusetts. At the start of 2017, an online gambling bill was introduced but it did not receive a major push as the special commission was still researching the market.
Commission In Favor Of Online Gambling
Last week, the special commission shared their views on their research and findings. While they are yet to present an official report to the state, initial feedback suggest that the majority of the commission members are in favor of legalizing online gambling in Massachusetts. Commission members believe that a omnibus approach is the way forward for legalizing online gambling in the state.
The positive feedback from the special commission means that should Massachusetts decide to legalize online gambling, it would most likely allow all form of online gambling which would include online poker, daily fantasy sports, online casino games and e-sports.
Online Gambling Not A Threat
When New Jersey decided to legalize online gambling, land based casino operators were also concerned that their profits could be impacted by the online gambling industry. However gambling regulators in the Garden State have highlighted the fact that during the last couple of quarters, the online gambling industry has helped to boost the revenue of land based casino operators and overall has helped revive the gambling industry in Atlantic City.
Those in favor of legalizing online gambling in Massachusetts could end up using New Jersey’s gaming industry to further their cause. However Las Vegas Sands Chairman and billionaire Sheldon Adelson has been the biggest opponent of the online gambling industry for a number of years and has personally funded ‘The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling’ in America.
Although the ‘Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming, and Daily Fantasy Sports’ is in favor of online gambling, it could take more than a couple of years for the law to be actually passed, give the track record of some of the other states who have sought to legalize online gambling. Legislators in California and Pennsylvania have fought hard to get online gambling legalized but the opposition has not been able to reach a mutual decision on gaming regulations that would govern online gambling operators. Massachusetts still has a long way to go but online gambling operators will be encouraged by the latest news.

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