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The Online Gambling Bill From Massachusetts

The most recent news reported from the United States with regards to online gambling is from the State of Massachusetts which is contemplating implementing a regulated intrastate gambling system. The proposal was filed in late January 2011 under Bill S.132. It has resurfaced because the local newspaper, the West Roxbury Patch, reported on the recent hearing from the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure.

Authorization Of A Probationary Two-Year Program

During the hearing, it was determined that the bill will authorize the Massachusetts Lottery Commission to implement a probationary two-year online gambling program. Also, there have been claims that estimate the state can expect $1 billion per year from the program. The Senator who proposed the bill indicated that the implementation of this system would be much safer for its residents than wagering at offshore casinos.

Details Of The Bill

The bill is similar to the Canadian online gambling system that would require prepaid player accounts and the State would monitor all gambling activity while expanding age verification methods and work toward minimizing problem gambling. The pilot program would be used to explore Internet sales channels, implement the latest innovations and evaluate new technologies and other delivery mechanisms. A report would be issued after 18 months regarding the success of the program.

A Statement from the Treasurer

The Massachusetts Treasurer noted that the sale of online lottery tickets in addition to games of chance would violate provisions of the federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act due to the required payment through credit cards. The claim was countered by the fact that New York, Virginia, North Dakota, Maryland, and Minnesota all currently sell lottery tickets through the Internet.

Support For The Bill

The Treasurer later stated that the lottery measure should still be passed regardless of his concerns. He felt that since Washington is moving toward a legalized online gambling system, Massachusetts should be one of the first States to take advantage of the legalization rather than being reactive.

Toward the end of 2010, provisions for the legalization of online gambling were eliminated from a larger bill on gambling. This bill proposed the establishment of new land casinos across the State of Massachusetts and was passed by both legislative bodies but vetoed by the governor. It is commendable that the state seeks to be one of the pioneers of the highly debated topic. If they can quickly implement a system, it could act as a model of other states.