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Massachusetts: Not This Year

Landscape is changing, says commission member

Massachusetts: Not This Year

Massachusetts is unlikely to legalize online gaming this year, despite earlier comments from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission member James McHugh that it would probably do so.

Since McHugh made those comments a month ago at the Internet Gaming Forum in Boston, the legislative landscape has changed considerably. Last month, Beacon Hill sources reported that bills that had been discussed are unlikely to be voted on in 2014. At this point McHugh is of the opinion that no bill will advance this year. He expressed that opinion last month at a gambling forum at the Borgata Atlantic City.

Several bills that would legalize online gaming are currently active, but opposition to them is increasing at the same time that opposition to the 2011 gaming expansion act is focusing on getting a referendum on the November ballot that would give voters a chance to decide the fate of gaming in the Bay State.

One bill would authorize online gaming, and a second bill would allow the state lottery to operate online.

Such bills have the support of Treasurer Steve Grossman and state Senator Bruce Tarr. However, Senator Jennifer Flanagan, while not actually opposing such bills, prefers to go slow and not get too far ahead of other states that are looking at legalization, as well as monitoring what Congress may do.

However, the main factor in delaying the bills may be the current focus on choosing and then licensing the three casino resorts that the 2011 legislation authorized. Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby in January said that nothing should be done on online gaming until the sites for the casino resorts had been selected.