Gaming authorities in Massachusetts are likely to push for an omnibus bill that will regulate both online poker and the daily fantasy sports (DFS) industries.
According to local media reports, the state Gaming Commission has voted to appoint Chairman Stephen Crosby to the special panel which was set up to evaluate the range of real-money online gaming opportunities in the state.
The study panel, which was created as a part of the recently-passed state economic development legislation, will meet for the first time in November.
The panel will also include representatives from the DFS and online gaming industries, experts and legislators. Crosby has reiterated his support for an omnibus bill saying that it would be ideal for the state. He had first mooted the idea in December 2015.
In a statement, Crosby said
Hopefully, this panel will be an opportunity for us to continue the initiative that we’ve made about trying to come up with some omnibus legislation that will give the Legislature and then probably the Gaming Commission the tools to regulate all of online gaming.
He pointed out that no other state had a bill that regulated online poker and DFS together.
The state currently has a barebones regulatory framework for DFS but it receives no tax revenues from the industry. DFS has been in legal cross-hairs in several U.S. states as it has been deemed as gambling by state attorney generals. So far only eight states have legalized DFS. Massachusetts has been unwilling to let the state’s lottery organization to take over internet betting. The issue has been set aside for the moment.
Delaware, one of the three states in the U.S. where online gaming is legal has the state lottery managing online gaming. The other two states Nevada and New Jersey that have legalized online gambling have the gaming commission oversee operations.
The decision on developing a legal framework for online poker was put on hold after the question came up in 2011 when a new law authorized four new casinos in the state. The Gaming Commission had at that time said that operators for the brick-and- mortar casinos should be a part of the online gambling discussion and hence discussions were put on hold till the brick and mortar casino operators were approved.
Penn National runs the Plainridge Park casino which is a slots only facility while MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts are developing their casino properties in the state. It is not yet clear if they will join the panel. The legalization of online poker continues to be a thorny issue but several states including Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York have made significant progress in the past few months.