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Massachusetts Lottery Wants To Test Free-Play Online Poker

Doing So Would Require Authorization From Legislature

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On Tuesday, lottery officials in the state of Massachusetts reportedly asked lawmakers to say OK to it testing the viability of offering Internet gambling.

Massachusetts is in the middle of figuring out who should be able to build new Las Vegas-style casinos in the state, one in three geographical regions.

“We are not proposing to offer these games to our players with an actual cash transaction, nor are we seeking any appropriation to fund such operations,” Lottery Assistant Executive Director Beth Bresnahan told the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, according to reporting from State House News Service.

“Rather, in the interests of preserving and protecting the Lottery, we simply want to ensure that we have a solid understanding of the technology and logistics of online gaming should this market space become more competitive. Existing law does not permit us to conduct such experimentation.”

In other words, free-play games would need to be legalized for the lottery.

Late last year, the state’s top gaming regulator said the following with regards to real-money online gambling in the state: “We also have taken the position that Massachusetts shouldn’t do anything in online gambling until our bricks-and-mortar people are selected because they ought to be at the table when we do this. You can’t expect somebody to give us $85 million and then spend a billion to build a facility and change the rules of the game on them a year or two down the road.” Online poker in Massachusetts is likely years away.