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Massachusetts takes another step toward legalizing online gambling

7 Jun 2017

By Abby Messick
Efforts could continue in 2018.

Efforts could continue in 2018.

The Massachusetts Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy sports met on Tuesday to discuss the future of online gambling, bills for which have been introduced but haven't made much progress. It was agreed by a majority of commission members that an omnibus approach may be best. This could set the course for online gambling in the state.

The commission, which was created with last year's passage of an economic development bill that legalized daily fantasy sports until 31 July 2018, has been in charge of reviewing and considering all aspects of online gaming. Online gambling, excepting daily fantasy sports, is currently illegal in the state.

State House News first reported that Rep. Joseph Wagner, co-chair of the commission, said, "There are three options I think that we will look at. There's the gaming option, a type of structure where we have a separate law that would govern this; the omnibus approach, which is where we would give some authority some authority to oversee all of this; or to just simply let it play out for some time or more going forward."

Bill SD 618, introduced earlier this year, was the regulatory equivalent of dipping a toe in the water – the two-page bill contained no specific information on licensing, taxation or regulations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this bill hasn't moved forward, but the recent endorsement for an all-inclusive bill from the special commission could help things along.

According to State House News, Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said he'd like to see more substantial legislation, something "broad brushed, very clear in terms of values and parameters and regulatory criteria."

Sen. Jennifer Flanagan agreed: "A very broad approach to this would be best for Massachusetts."

A report from the special commission is due by 31 July. Any further pushes for legalization would have to be made in 2018.
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