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US Poker

  • Regulation is currently under discussion
  • Regulation has been discussed but no recent movement
  • Online poker is not likely anytime soon

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(Population of 6.745 million as of 2014)

With nearby Delaware and New Jersey already reaping the benefits of iGaming, Massachusetts is one of the states who’ve expressed interest in following suit. Back in March, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission held a forum on Internet gambling where they weighed the positive and negative effects the industry could have on their state.

As a result, Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby believed iGaming was something the state needed.

“The time is now, it’s upon us,” he said. “We can’t wait any longer, even though we’re still in the middle of licensing [casinos].”

Likewise, State Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg echoes those pro-iGaming sentiments: “I personally don’t see how you can avoid it. We’re just at the early stages of trying to understand how this actually works, and given that you can organize business inside the commonwealth, within the country, and internationally and set them up online, so we need to figure out how that all works.”

In May of this year author Ben Mezrich penned an op-ed for The Boston Globe titled “Legalize Online Poker, So Massachusetts Can Reap Millions.” Unfortunately Mezrich embarrassed himself a bit by relying heavily on Amendment #365, which sought to establish online poker in the state via the Massachusetts House proposed budget for the 2014 fiscal year. The amendment , which was supported by at least 18 state representatives, ultimately failed, and Mezrich’s failure to realize this resulted in some false hope.

Massachusetts, while interested in iGaming, waited until their recently approved casino industry was established in 2016 before even venturing in the virtual realm.

The Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts completed a study that found that just over 1 percent of people had gambled in the past 12 months and over 11 percent were problem gamblers.

So, online gaming is accessible in Massachusetts whether or not it’s legal and there have been efforts recently to push it through.

Similarly, a multi-year effort headed by Massachusetts Treasure Deborah Goldberg to allow online lotteries in the state has continued to make progress, despite some pushback. A bill passed overwhelmingly at the end of 2016 in the state senate, but the House didn’t hold a vote.

A similar bill was proposed but not acted on earlier in the session. Online lottery proponents might have more luck in 2017 given its track record in 2016, reported Online Poker Report.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed that its economic growth strategy lawmakers developed when they legalized casino gambling in 2011 had started to benefit communities.

This good press could be good, supposedly for online gaming, especially as 2017 kicked off with a new bill filed from Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr to legalize online gambling in the state. This bill would have online gaming licenses for MGM, Penn National and Wynn. It comes after Massachusetts already passed through a bill to legalize daily fantasy sports.

Barring some unexpected changes, Massachusetts could be a couple years away from iGaming, but at least they’re a part of the conversation.