Massachusetts has emerged as one of the front-runners for online gambling expansion, with advocates for online gambling like State Treasurer and Gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman and State Senator Bruce Tarr pushing the legislature to take action on online gambling.
Despite their efforts, it appears Massachusetts online gambling will have to wait until at least next year, based on recent comments by James McHugh, a Commissioner on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, who spoke at the recent USA Online Gambling Forum at the Borgata in Atlantic City.
With his remarks McHugh dialed back what had been aggressive talks in the state regarding online gambling expansion, telling the assembled masses at the forum an “iGaming bill will not pass in this session but is a ” serious” effort,” according to a live tweet from the conference by iGamingPlayer.
Last month McHugh and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission hosted an iGaming forum of their own, where McHugh came across as far more optimistic about Massachusetts exploring online gambling, creating a lot of hope in the iGaming world, and propelling Massachusetts into the frontrunner category.
Despite the encouraging forum in Massachusetts, it appears that the more conservative voices in the state have won the day, voices like State Senator Jennifer Flanagan who have called for a more cautious and measured approach to online gambling.
The slow and steady approach is being recommended not only to see how online gambling plays out in other states, but also to allow Massachusetts’ newly legalized brick & mortar industry to get off the ground before moving on to online gambling.
Massachusetts will now join several other states who are taking the “wait and see” approach to online gambling expansion (most notably New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland), preferring to let the industries in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware mature before deciding if they want in.
Massachusetts iGaming bills
In 2013 Massachusetts lawmakers took several cracks at passing an online gambling bill.
The first attempt was an attachment to the State’s budget, which never made it into the final budget.
Following the failed budget amendment attempt, two online gambling bills have been introduced, the first being a comprehensive iGaming bill that would have essentially legalized all online casino games; the second was a more unadventurous bill that would create an online lottery.
These bills are still current.
There was also a proposal made earlier this year would allow the State Lottery to experiment with online offerings to see if the technology and logistics are in place should the state expand into online gambling in the future.
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