Online poker will be legalized in Massachusetts if an amendment attached to the budget of 2014 gets the required vote. As many as 18 members of the state’s House of Representatives have sponsored this amendment.
If the bill is passed into law, only online poker will be legalized in the state. Online casino gambling will not be legalized. According to the bill, those who want to place bets on online poker games have to be 21 years of age. Operators granted an online poker license in Massachusetts will be required to verify players’ location and age.
The bill will also require providers of online poker software, online payment processors, as well as operators of online poker rooms to be based in the state of Massachusetts. Online poker companies seeking a Massachusetts online poker license will have to pay a licensing fee of $10 million. The companies will also have to pay taxes to the government during their first two years in the state. The state will not issue more than three online poker licenses.
In February, Massachusetts lawmakers proposed a bill that would legalize online casino gambling in the state. In 2011, land-based casino resorts became legal in Massachusetts, and the state is scheduled to finalize regulations for its brick-and-mortar casino industry this June. The land casinos will become functional only in 2016. Now that the state is on the verge of passing an online poker bill, one could expect online poker rooms to be launched in Massachusetts before the land casinos.
The bill includes a “bad actor” clause, according to which companies that continued accepting US players even after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006 will not be granted an online poker license in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission could permit its licensees to operate outside its jurisdiction, which means that the state could form interstate online poker compacts with other states that have legalized online poker.
Massachusetts is one of the 11 US states that are currently mulling over the pros and cons of online gambling legalization. New Jersey became the third US state to legalize online gambling in February, and now the state is creating a regulatory framework for the same. Nevada and Delaware have already passed online gambling bills.
If passed into law, the bill can boost Massachusetts flailing economy, generate plenty of jobs for residents, and give Massachusetts players an opportunity to play for real money.