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Massachusetts Panel To Study Online Poker, DFS

Gaming Commission Chairman To Be On New Panel


Massachusetts’ top gaming regulator is still eyeing an omnibus bill to regulate online casino games and daily fantasy sports.

According to State House News Service, the state Gaming Commission on Thursday voted to have Chairman Stephen Crosby appointed to a special panel created to study all real-money online gaming opportunities for the Bay State.

Massachusetts has what amounts to some oversight on DFS, but the state doesn’t currently get any tax revenue from the contests. That would change if Internet gambling legislation is passed.

The panel, which must hold a meeting by November, reportedly was created in recent state economic development legislation. Gov. Charlie Baker signed that bill in August.

Crosby was quoted in December as saying an “omnibus regulatory bill” might make sense for the state. Last week, he indicated his clear support for such a plan.

“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,” Crosby said at the regulatory meeting Thursday.

He stressed the point that no other state has decided to regulate online casino games and DFS in one fell swoop. The panel that Crosby will be on will include lawmakers and industry experts.

The report said that the state isn’t ready to allow its lottery to offer Internet sales, a topic that will be debated separately. In early 2014, the lottery said it wanted to take a look at online poker.

In Delaware, one of three states with a regulated online casino gambling industry, the state lottery oversees the games. Gaming commissions in Nevada and New Jersey oversee those respective Internet betting markets.

When Massachusetts was in the process of selecting casino developers for four new gambling facilities authorized by a 2011 law, the Gaming Commission said that “Massachusetts shouldn’t do anything in online gambling until our bricks-and-mortar people are selected.”

The idea was to have those companies involved with any online gambling discussions.

Years later, a slots parlor from Penn National is open, and MGM and Wynn are in the middle of construction for their respective casinos in the state, though they have experienced delays.

In addition to Massachusetts, other states looking at online poker regulation include Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and California. The Golden State has been stuck in a years-long debate over online poker, and the stalemate doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.