Massachusetts Gaming Commission Seeks iPoker Control, as Washington State Introduces Legislation

Posted on January 13th, 2016 by Jon Pineda
 Massachusetts Gaming Association Washington online poker

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is hoping state lawmakers will allow three new land-based casinos to offer online gambling. Politicians out west in Washington State are wishing for the same. (Image: massgaming.com)

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is campaigning members of the state’s government to grant it the power to oversee the future of Internet gambling in the Bay State.

Due to the expansion of daily fantasy sports (DFS), the MGC is appealing to politicians, since it currently has no legal authority over regulating or monitoring the emerging market. The commission currently only governs land-based gambling.

In a white paper published earlier this week, MGC officials highlighted the importance of the Massachusetts Commonwealth addressing DFS and online gambling concerns sooner rather than later.

“Unsettled Massachusetts law and piecemeal regulation make playing DFS a risky activity, both legally and practically for Massachusetts citizens,” the research declared. “Prompt clarification of the law is highly desirable for citizens, players, and operators alike.”

MCA Wants Poker

Massachusetts State Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) introduced a bill to legalize online gaming in November in order to complement the Plainridge Park slot parlor and forthcoming MGM Springfield and Wynn Everett casino resorts.

“Our state has chosen to pursue casino gaming … Allowing those we are counting on to produce revenue for Massachusetts and our cities and towns to conduct online gaming will give them a competitive advantage, and increase their chances of success,” Tarr said.

Should citizens and lawmakers take additional steps to implement Internet poker, the MGC wants control. “The Commission is very aware that while today DFS is the hot new Internet-based gaming, in past years it was online poker, and next year it may well be eSports.”

MGC Chairman Steve Crosby believes his group can properly manage the developing world of Internet-based gaming. Crosby stated that a “single, nimble Internet gaming regulatory body” should have jurisdiction over all online betting, regardless of whether the game is skill-based or chance.

Washington Enters Fray

It’s looking like 2016 is poised to become a landmark year in the history of online poker. From Massachusetts to California, a host of states are mulling legalization, and that now includes Washington State.

State Reps. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) and Vincent Buys (R-Lynden) reintroduced a bill to authorize Internet poker this week. That’s a rather ironic development, considering that Washington classified a citizen’s participation in online gambling as a felony in 2006.

First brought to Olympia 12 months ago, Appleton and Buys’ legislation doesn’t specify how much each operator would be required to pay for an iPoker license, but does institute a nine percent tax on all gross revenues.

The bill is also free of any “bad actor” clauses, meaning networks that operated between the passing of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) up until poker’s Black Friday in 2011 would be permitted to operate regardless. Bad actor clauses would primarily impact gaming giants PokerStars and Full Tilt from entering a legal Internet poker environment.

“The Internet is an integral tool in the everyday lives of Washingtonians,” the bill reads. “To better protect the people of Washington from potential danger from, and to maintain oversight of the systems used to carry out Internet poker, the legislature finds it to be in the interest of the people to establish a regulatory framework.”

Appleton and Buys aren’t alone in that thinking.

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