Massachusetts Is Considering Legalizing Online Gambling
While sports betting in Massachusetts might not be getting a boot into the digital age anytime soon, that's not the case for online gambling in general. State officials have been pondering the issue for some time now, focusing heavily on the economic ramifications such a move would have on Massachusetts. If MA were to make moves to legalize online gambling, they would be only the fourth state to do so. As more states move to legalize different forms of gambling the pressure mounts on PASPA and the legality it has. Our only hope is that as we move closer to legal casino gambling it will slowly fold legal sports betting in with it.
Online gambling has been going on through the black market for years all across the US. Massachusetts only just joined the world of land-based casino gambling a few years ago, after passing legislation that allowed for three cities to open casinos. Only one of those is up and running, the other two still under construction and set to open in the coming years. So even with land-based options in the state, many residents prefer the ease and convenience of online gambling sites.
Jennifer Flanagan, a state Senator and member of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, feels that a move towards legalizing online gambling would make MA a hub for new technological advances. “The online gaming world is evolving every day,” says Flanagan. “I think there’s a lot of merit to the idea of encouraging developers to come to Massachusetts to create the next big thing.”
Flanagan has support behind her claims that regulating online gambling in Massachusetts would bring in an extra source of income for the state. A new source of entertainment creates a new job market. This vein of thinking is what is leading other states like Pennsylvania and New York to pen their own pro-online gambling legislation.
Does Everyone Want Online Gambling In MA?
There are those who are opposed to the change in law, mainly the three casino owners who have invested billions into their companies. Two casinos spent $195 million in licensing, and are not thrilled with the idea that their biggest competition is going to be an easily accessed, online, offshore company.
Eric Schippers, a senior VP with Penn National, wants the exclusive rights to online casino gambling if MA decides to go in that direction. Schippers believes that it would be in bad faith for the state to allow out of state (or even out of country) competition to walk in and steal their potential profits after shelling out hundreds of millions for the licensing and then building of the casino.
Some state legislators agree with this, stating that it would be better to reward those businesses that have already invested billions of dollars locally, rather than turn their backs on them. Others, though, are open to the possibility of legalizing all forms of online gambling rather than just handing exclusive rights over to the three casinos in the state.
All of this is just speculation, of course. There are no legislative bills in the works to bring this about during MA’s session, and as far as we know, it will never take off past this conversation. But the argument for legalizing online gambling seems to be the same for regulating sports betting. As the Chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Stephen Crosby, put it, “There’s billions of dollars being gambled online now. The question is whether we in Massachusetts want to take it out of the shadows, regulate it, and take a piece of the action.”
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